You were high in Gothic air in Summer,
And I was low in Gothic sky in Spring,
And I brought you a barrel of bittersweet hops from home.
It rolled in limestone switchback scars
Across your back,
Like honey from the hornet’s nest
That shakes from time to time
When bedtime rainstorms rattle
The pine needle branches on your head.
I thought of you
When flying over the Mountains—
I thought of you
Wading in a river,
Naked for no one,
And, when ice-water kisses stream
Down the basin of your neck,
Are you cold?
I thought of the goose bumps that sprout up your arms,
The unmarked range through which my fingers hike.
Are your feet still sore? Are you a mess?
I didn’t bring my slippers for the flight,
But a dried sprig of sage,
Pressed in my yellow legal pad,
Hints of juniper, and you.
I pictured you beyond the tree line,
Sloped, standing where desert melts to snow,
Where the sky flattens the world
And nothing but air is sharp.
It’s nice. Okay.
The sun outside my window cleaves the clouds,
Blows pink-orange ember dust over your face,
And you nestle in a fleece in thinning air,
Top-heavy lungs tipping on ridges pressed to your chest,
Sleeping on a stone,
Alone in the company of all yourselves.
Meanwhile my exhalations
Steep sweat-dense mats of hair,
Sleep in the knife-blue glow of fasten-seatbelt signs,
And, still, still, okay,
I have never been so close to the summit,
And so far from the trailhead,
The gnarled pine notch in your hairline.
My hands? Yes.
I saw you at the baggage claim,
Reaching a bruised arm
They’re always bruised, my dear
To take my bag,
But your words tumble out in euphemism. It wasn’t you.
I stretched my stiff legs out into the street,
Remembered the icy sidewalk by our house;
The exhaust from passing cars
Was the hike-hot vapor of your breath.
Cody Kahoe is somewhere between Colorado and Istanbul. He usually tries to be funnier than this would suggest.