by Yael Flusberg
You take away my breath.
I’m used to being five feet above ground,
if you don’t count the layer between concrete and crust.
It took 30 million millennia to manufacture ranges
of your magnitude.
Stones matured underfoot until masons came to lay temples on your remote
mountainsides where ordinary beings practiced becoming luminous before death.
The Children of the Sun trained to cross quickly after that last exhale, after
the passage from air to space.
They tested the bridge to arrive without lagging in the world below.
Some call your cordillera
the backbone of the Americas.
It’s no accident I haven’t returned.
You insist I come cleansed – not
of the carcinoma which was excised with surgical precision,
but of what has taken all these years to develop: the notion that I
was the malignancy,
slowly growing on soft earth, undetected until the liminal state snuck into something more solid:
a rocky life growing into full height.