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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 7, Number 3, September 2013

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J. Zimmerman
Yosemite, California, USA


Mile Nine

As I approach the summit of the bare granite dome, the stone piles that had been a vague but helpful indication of an invisible trail elude me. At the top, a solitary young man torments a reluctant fire with a branch. I wonder if it's ok to burn timber up here.

lightning hits
whatever grows from granite
on El Capitan
one isolated pine
shelters a small tent

His girlfriend stays inside their tent grumbling softly about him, the dampness, the sanitation, the food, and her aching feet. A half-empty quart of whiskey nestles in a nook of rocks nearby.

the granite dome
slowly exfoliating
the weight
of millions of years—
he discounts my suggestions

Two days ago he hid from a lightning storm all afternoon in Horsetail Creek woods. Filaments of wind-blown cloud drift past us. We're seven and a half thousand feet above the sea. He says this summit has a trail to the world's largest overlook. The thought makes my legs tremble and my palms sweat.

I descend
from the bald granite hilltop
his lone campsite
and the rollicking thunder
he claims this rain will soon pass

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