Mountain Pass | Dustin Masker


At the top the trees were like grass, and all things felled were imperceptible. The first step took a lifetime to take, the rest were just like the first, only they were unknowably better every time I picked up my foot, and that, of course, I still have yet to know.  At the top of the mountain I took off my oxygen and sighed out into the maw of the valley, and as the breath glissaded past a couple bodies that were left to freeze, it dissolved into a much larger thing; somehow I could make out nothing from up there. I took in all of that nothing; the greater whole: overlooking what can only be a beautiful world if even trash is allowed to behold it. All of the lesser parts, the things brushed beyond the horizon were bright, I could see them, and that made me think one day, maybe, I’d find them. I could only remain for a short while before descending, that scared me to tears-but I could make it up again: following the cairns that some long forgotten hero left behind on my mountain path. I often forget how hard the climb is, and that some of us never like it, or never see the summit (I’m reminded of people I know, and many I knew; the campers waiting lifetimes in their bivouacs and the jumpers soaring off their ledges). After returning from the mountain things will feel no different. The ridgeline will again look like the upper jaw of some future monster: gnarled and monumental, leering and evil. Anything for a moment, the mountaintop’ll say it: there were, or are, or will be no infinities. I’ll say, at some point, Is this it? And… yea, it was, or it is, or it will be; it depends on how long I get to struggle through all these ascents; it depends on how beautiful this world is.

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