Ed Pavlic

Call  It  In  the  Air

Last time I saw you on your feet,
we climbed Mt. Shavano
to have lunch on the angel’s hip.
Year by year step by step you led me up
past the line where trees grow past the line
where shrubs cling to rocks
and you tell south by the lichen. I hesitate
when my lungs begin to ache, lose a full step
for your every two. We pass the line
where grizzlies plunder pine cone stores
of black, cat-eared alpine squirrels.
Empty craters that smell of thin green air.
We’re into the zone of the all too recently disturbed
stones where grizzlies find moths
that blow in off the plains of Kansas
and Nebraska to mate
in the rubble beyond the tree-line.
I don’t want to know any of this, but I do.
You do too but could give a damn.
I’m scared and I can’t breathe. I join the invisible
crowd of all those you’ve left behind and turn
back and you’re bears be damned
on all fours now. I sit on a boulder and gasp
for air and I see you get smaller and smaller
and with each blink I see it flash clear.
You could care about the altitude of the glacier
angel up the slope. I remember how you used to
tell me I made you safe because
when kidnappers came
they’d take me. The youngest. The boy. Now
I’m bigger than you are, so,
here I am, back here in the bell of he curve, Kate,
bait. And there you are,
your liver floating in the numbbright,
curled up like a peach pit
on a hissing radiator, eyes alight
with the flamedarktorch in each pulse.
I’m high enough
that my vision is splotched with black
patches of torn cloth
and there you go, a slow drip of Patrón
and a quick whiff of nicotine
for lunch as you search your way alone out along
the flat forever in the asymptotic line,
search your way up for the line
up beyond which elevation
the lungs change into birds
up high enough and cross the line to where
you can go on living without having to have a body at all.
—for Kate

Ed Pavlic
“Call It In the Air” first appeared in Inertia Magazine.