Take the boy up to the summit of the mountain. Bring a knife.
Bring a length of twine, some kindling, flint, enough water for two
to last the day. Gather them all in a pouch. Keep the edge of the
in its sheath. Safe. Contained. Keep the pouch that holds
tight against your body, close. Like that. You do not want it loose
as you travel up the mountain. You do not want it
to swing. It is a long hike ahead. Swinging chafes.
Only dawn but already the boy cannot contain
himself, snickers, asks you catch him as he sprints up the
Catch him. Carry him part of the way with his thighs slung warm
against your neck, atop your shoulders. Let him marvel
at the landscape. Let him catch his breath. Let him loose
to his wonder, his wide-eyed, his thin legs swinging. Small
Let him point things out. Ask their names. Ask you name them.
When you arrive at the place, there will be no mark
to name it. No signpost, no rock formation, no certain
patch of grass. But you will know that you are there
when you are there. Know surely. Set down your pouch.
Do not take things out. Begin gathering stones from the visible
proximity, lay down a stable foundation that will hold
despite agitation. Set up the stones so to cradle his body
like a perch. A vantage point. Ask him to bring you dry leaves,
pile them in a heap. Tell him where to heap them. Watch him
carry out your instructions. Urge him on. When the sun is risen
high enough, and your shadow seems a pool at your feet,
tell him his work is done. Tell him he has done it well.
Now beckon him to you. Call his name. Tell him
there is one more thing that he must do. He will not ask you.
Do not lay your hands on the scrawn of his shoulders.
Do not trace the shape of his shoulder blades, as if a space
where he might sprout wings. Lift him slowly. Hold him
tender by the armpits. Set him down upon the makeshift
altar, steady, proceed to loosen the string of your pouch.
Now ask him turn. Ask him what he thinks he sees.
By Joshua UyhengQLRS Vol. 15 No. 2 Apr 2016