Giant and Trembling
     FINALIST for the 2012 46er Prize
High up in the mountains at noon he stops 

to catch his breath. Heaven is night-blue above.

He feels eyes on him, a billion black eyes

on white trunks with the snow. Aspen trees

claim valleys and passes in all directions,

all but the peaks. There is no escape from this life 

but up. And even then. The largest in the world

he is told, connected to itself by miles of ancient 

organs to make a life the size of Utah. 

A white, living empire they call the Trembling Giant. 

Not sure he can call these trees anymore

he leans on one, hands sweaty and legs sore

from skiing all morning. The air is thin.  

He feels the eyes envy him. If he is not bigger

than that enormous being at least his life 

shares the size of something that is. 

He is the one trembling, remembering 

what he can claim, always

surprised that this is the same life, every day,

the bulk of which is lost, buried, unseen,

or forgotten, but still sending up living shoots

to the sun, that quake in the morning wind

and turn gold-yellow later on. Though he is not

even sure he can call these days anymore. 

NICHOLAS MAIONE teaches elementary school in Brooklyn, where he has more or less lived since he graduated from Cornell University. He is from upstate New York. He is on the side poems nourished not by themselves.