Cerise Creek

Cerise Creek

I punch through snow
between the firs
only tufts of branches and greenery
stand aloft

red algae dots the spring snow
whose colonies flourish
in meltouts and indents

the wind rubs my ear
competing with the noisy creek
for attention
they argue for a little while

the creek hisses and spits
while the wind roars and rumbles
together forming a canopy of sound
that smothers the crunching of my footsteps

then gradually
the creek fades away
with the passing rock outcroppings
and gullies
leaving only
the wind

the algae grows the thickest in the sun
and as the trees thin
the red grows deeper
and more dense
appearing in streaks
and blotted patches

the cabin is at the tree-line
its glass windows face the
mist-drenched anniversary glacier
dotted with ascending climbers                                                

the crumbs in the cabin
feed the rats
despite the sign saying not to
and the lake nearby is poisoned
we call it “lake giardia”

these are only minor problems
nothing a tent and water filter can’t solve

on the way back down
while mindlessly traversing a steep slope
I lose my footing
and free-fall like a stone over a cliff
only to come to a halt
by crashing into a tree

I am
deep inside a tree well
my face cringes and
mimics the broken and uneven
southeast ridge of Mount Joffre

blood trickles from my hands
and splatters on the snow
melding with the algae
sticks and branches
becoming indistinguishable

the forest looks on, says
nothing