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Guest Writer

janina revisited
by Gretta Descamp

3:28 p.m.

I am constructing this from memory
cannot see every day for itself
only moments
five    ten seconds
snow as a bed
blisters and cold and can't sit down because
there's snow there's fucking snow everywhere

And morning
armed with ice-axes
we climbed across this hill
so near hysteria as they
lowered me down
feet pointing up the mountain
head straining back to find the snow
I watched the sky slide across my vision
until I was facing the other horizon.

"I can't do this"

(but still they let go)

screaming twisting pulling      I tried to remember iceaxeoveroppositeshoulderflipbodydiginkneesandfeet
instead I found myself head first on my stomach
ice-axe pushing against the snow against my chest
100 feet later I stopped myself with screams
and knees and knuckles
we were both ripped away by gravity
but I came back

I can tell you now I lived through this
found purchase in the snow to stop myself
I can tell you I survived
laid out and sweating at the mountain's feet
crying out my confidence
and never walked again in snow
with such a sure step.

That night I dreamed someone's death
and woke elated
because death meant I could go home
I can tell you I was there
below, when she lost her footing
I did not see her fall.

During the seven hours of her death
the sun peaked the sky and fell away again
burning us, then leaving us in darkness
we didn't know who was dying.
I listened for a name
but heard only the counting of CPR
the rotation of helicopter blades
I stared into my hands
the only image disconnected
from snow and climbing
falling. Death.
But even my hands betrayed me
I could not forget their failure
to prevent my fall
could not forgive
their success.

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