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                               By peter krey


Mastering the mountain

means learning and learning

until Chocorua is part of him.

But at the foot of the Liberty Trail

Chocorua was not even to be seen

because of the gigantic trees of the forest

to be entered, the vistas of the trail

to be followed, without any perspective

only some directions on signs covered

in the heavy pelt over the beginning.


Man, the climber was out of shape.

With the first steep grades

his perspiration streaming

and his huffing and puffing increasing,

he could be heard up and down the trail

extinguishing the thoughts of his mind

and forcing him into the full awareness of his body,

from where it had been eclipsed.

He confronted the limits he was compelled

to recognize by increasing his pace.

He hopes for the flabby body to fall

like a baggy pair of pants

leaving the naked will to climb on.

But the baggy body does not fall that easily,

so the mountain provides streams for him.

In a first exhaustion he hears a strange sound.

Is it raining? No. Thunder?

What is so white rushing down those rocks?

Between those trees? Cascading brooks!

Hooray! Water!

And the mountain refreshes the pilgrim,

who has honored it

in becoming a part of Chocorua.


Fear of the wild engulfs him.

Its not too wise climbing alone.

There are plenty of bears.

What if he surprises one in a blueberry patch?

And it rears up – and he runs for his life –

whew – and run with those heavy army boots?

Or could a bear hear his heavy breathing,

with his heart throbbing in his throat,

recognize his weakness, and mercifully

put him out of his misery?

But, no. Here is too noisy a man

clattering and stomping up the trail….

The animals sense and fear

this baggy danger, this wild man

and recede at fire-arms length

into the recesses of the back country

insulating the contaminator


their hearts embedded gently in nature,

  embedded in the angry storms

out-bursting in nature

  embedded in the un-lost voices

of Chocorua,


which he begins to hear because of

a needed rest wherein he grows quiet

and the jardent noise of his existence

subsides and the voices of the wilderness set in –

the chatter of the chipmunks,

the two clear notes of the Phoebe,

the staccato of the Chickadee

and he vanishes silently

into the quiet that covers and sustains him.


The trees become dwarfs

and the candy scent of the pines

sweeten the air as he climbs, climbs

heading for the timberline.

And some rock like a mans shoulder

sticks out at the side of the mountain –

and makes possible a wonderful view,

just above the involvement of the timber.

It seems the higher the altitude

the less detail, but the greater

the generalizing overview.


But the hills and rises play tricks on him.

Deceived in the bosom of a small hill

he thinks he is ascending the mountain itself.

From the Liberty Hut he is descending again.

What appeared to be the top of the mountain

was only another false Christ.

One peak after another was only

    posing as Chocorua,

and Chocorua itself powerful

waited invisible and majestic for him.


First the true summit, suspect,

seemed a fraud – but he quickly overcame his doubt

as it served its cherished vantage-point

high over the thick forest festoons

of the valleys, the mirror lakes,

the rivers, the towns.

And he stood up there

in the outlined stature of himself,

and fell to his knees and prayed

to the name that is above every name,

who had dressed this mountain

in the maturity of all its learning,

and then made him a part of Chocorua

and Chocorua a part of him.



Pinkhams Notch, New Hampshire, 2:00am. September 21-22, 1977.

Revised again August 1, 2004.


Written by peterkrey

September 22, 2006 at 4:52 am

Posted in My Poems

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