Keats, Climbing

The lost peak weighs heavy on him the weeklong trip
home from Fort William, its damp hand on his breastbone.
False summits, false ends, false altars of breath ascending
toward the sun, its old teeth gnawing at cloud-kept frost,
frigid mud engulfing each foot on the winding mudtrack.
The worst conditions in the world and only a whiskey muffler—
let this dram of gasping go down easy, a little gulp of fire
swing a censer between ribs—summits vaporating upon arrival,
summits sinking upon approach—as a dream destroyed
by grasping its tattered jacket, inurning what’s left—
one ragged vision inside another, as the rinds of ruined lung
the surgeon excised, held: a wonder he breathed at all.  end