Searching for Mars
a single strand of cloud
slashes the denim sky
a bleach-blanched fringe like scar
I’ll reach into the tear pull
watch moon stars Venus
tumble out like pocket lint
sew one silver button at a time
onto the sky's balled up shirt
if you’ll forgive me again
for pushing you away
pull the string you’ll find them
every cafe we went to each painted canvas
still crooked on the wall
every lost tent stake and soggy tarp
from our early amateur excursions
remember leaning against the tent walls
waiting for bears as the breeze pawed
the leaves later even alone
that sound was soothing let rain rip clouds
let wind rile branches let crickets dream under leaves
I kept our memories drier than my socks
until darkness unraveled nylon colored light
scratched the too quiet stuck my eyes to pillow cases
I sought you out in the seams of damp corners
threaded a wish through the last of night
so I could search the other side
for that orange spark of Mars we used to
point at it from our bench by the bridge across
from a cafe closed sign drain our last
drops of ambition into the pre-morning glow
now waiting for our lives to line up
feels like staying awake for the new moon
grounds stuck to empty cup bottoms
can you squint through the grit until
the wound's washed out
I think I’m ready now
Mt. Cabot, White Mountains
One mile up the trail we spot
her red snowshoes running down
the mountain towards us.
A seventy something with sparky
orange hair gives us a summit report.
"Clear, cold—broken out 'til the Horn"
she speaks faster than the wind.
Her chapped lips and crows feet
smiling as she waves us on.
My friends and I summit late,
our dry breath drenched in pine.
Stunted, snow covered spines draw
in the last light. Day folds inward
like an overburden branch.
Color wrinkles the sky.
I think of her when the snowshoe
crunch curbs conversation.
As stars sprout above the trees
like candles on a cake.
Count or choose not to count years
but it's a new winter. Snow drifts have
changed shape—spruce traps
have found new hiding places.
A sliver moon dangles
grasping the sky like a wish.
I imagine her diligently scouting
her footing, wading through
life’s frosting, trying not
to get sucked in or poked at.
She's hours and forty years
of mountain days ahead.
My family climbed Whiteface
by car when I was ten—
one of a few peaks you can drive to.
The road curled like father's hair,
frayed my mother's smile. I recall
a damp dog, sharp elbows and turns -
being crushed like a blueberry muffin,
watching my sister munch on hers
after I ran out of crumbs.
I am always out of crumbs.
We parked and walked a half mile
against a nagging wind. Everyone else
found a rock and opened a sandwich.
I slipped away, walloped again
by a whale sized feeling home
was going to be somewhere
I’d have to find—a finger smudge
on a map I didn’t own yet nestled
in the blue-green contours of the ridge.
With that strapped on my shoulders
I sought a narrow path out
from under "no"s and "never"s
sandal clad toenails chipped like
peeling sign posts. Come. I promise
this might be dangerous.
ALISON TERJEK is an aspiring writer living in Northwest Connecticut. She is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University, 2017-2018 AmeriCorps Member, and Appalachian Mountain Club Connecticut executive committee member and hike leader. She writes and hikes throughout the Northeast.