Mt. Tallac
brown and bare-legged,
  up the trail,
    silver gravel crunches
      beneath our white shoes;
        Sierra sun slides
          down our backs.

Floating Island Lake
  to the left,
    green and granite,
      gold light breaks
        and bounces
          into my eyes.

narrow knife ridge
  leads us high,
    fewer pines, more rock.
      Cathedral Lake glistens
        over the edge, down,
          down.

step breath step breath,
  higher higher,
    Fallen Leaf Lake, Tahoe,
      home of the WashoeŚ
        lakes beyond lakes,
          land beyond land.

glacier smooth boulders,
  now no trail,
    just go for it.
      snow hangs on,
        snow melts off,
          we climb on all fours.

pink flowers burst;
  their fire fills the cracks.
    hands hold,
      legs spring,
        and we're up on the last ridge
          below the summit.

Tallac great Tallac,
  sharp peak shining
    near ten thousand feet
      into deep July blue,
        we stand in wild wind
          on its shoulders.

out to the farthest highest
  ridge point,
    gray rounded boulder
      beneath my tiny white shoes,
        south and east and west
          roll out below.

Tallac behind,
  Tahoe and the sisters beneath,
    my arms reach up
      breathing earth and sky.
        my cry goes out

          hay-ah-hay-ah-ho-o-o-o

hear it float in silver air,
  fall through pines
    and light on lakes till
      the peak's silent shadow pushes
        the last splash of sun
          over the edge.

as Tallac still lit,
  watches,
    we breathe the tip of time.


© 1996 Leslye Layne Russell


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