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A Hard Climb
by David Matthews

Ermine cloak pulled tight to my neck,
I indulge a taste for country churchyards ringed by autumn-bare trees
And vineyard laced hills cloaked in novembric fog.
I revel in the rain, the chill,
Icy heights and thin air,
Recall a hard climb up Dog Mountain
With Wade and Hong-Hong,
Determined to see those flowers
Said to bloom in a meadow up near the tree line.
The sky spit freezing rain that danced, metallic, off my jacket.
Late May felt December.
We found no flowers that day,
Just the gorge laid out beneath gray cloud,
A rugged lyric etched on Holderlinian sky.

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