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Amanda Whiting

   

Listen to Amanda Whiting read "Northern Approach:"
 

Northern Approach

 
The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, “What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?” and my answer must at once be, “It is no use.”
           — George Mallory
 

Someone will ask why you came
To fill your tubs of lung with water,
  Desiccated air.
  To leave in crevasses what you brought her:

     Footfall     
       Prayer
          Flags

            Why solve this problem, how
            To Hillary Step?
              Or was it just a place
              You forget to fear?

                        Abandoning all pieces
                        That ice and scree can cost a man.
                          Did you come for that?
                          To believe in what it means to be tired.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “Because it was there”?
                                                                      No, there because it was.

                                              Glory for repelling
                                              From the world of easy
                                   To deeper, steeper faces,
                                   To scrape against the ceiling
                                   Your whole life behind you.

                        What will they say, do you think,
                        When you tell them the truth?
              That Sagarmāthā is not word,
              Or place,
But the shape your mouth takes
When you wonder.

  

    

Amanda Whiting is an MFA student at Rutgers University and lives in New Haven, Connecticut. This poem comes from a series of poems and short fictions on the theme of North.
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