The Climber on the Bells
Tap the mudstone cliffs, their banded bones.
Tongue a drift starry as the valley’s columbine.
Spidering down to five thousand feet, see
how a beaver slaps the river’s skin in wild applause,
its structure a seeming error or mischance,
a child’s bedaubed mud castle, detritus of the storm.
Or a Calder mobile, the precarious off-centering
a vertiginous flight plan. Jetsam swirls downstream,
current so quick and hungry, a pitiless blue.
There’s the irritable plash where a bird’s egg lands,
the tourney of open jaws: a fox gullets it down.
Everywhere, the continuum of industry is hit or miss
the way a frowsty nest may judder in the wind,
the way the rope inflicts a sinister burn.
When the body on a slipshod ledge suspends
a stellar instant, kicks out blind, and falls.