All the Daves

by maggie

I’ve been concentrating on my words recently so here’s some about climbing. No Daves were damaged in the creation of this piece.

The newbies come with nervy anticipation.
There are things you tell them;
Push with your legs.
Trust your feet.
Move your bum over.
Climb like a girl!

There are things you do not say,
There are things you may never say.

Sometimes they want to conquer a fear of heights,
Sometimes they want to conquer themselves.
Rarely these days an excuse for the hills.

Never let go of the rope you say,
Never. Let. Go. For fuck sake.
The leader never falls.
Don’t look down.
Pay attention to your partner.
Find your balance.
Stick your bum out.
No, that’s not a sexist slur.

The newbies come.
Inside with the colours and the music
It’s easy to forget the unlooked for slip,
The cry of gulls in the sudden silence,
The wet pop of snapping bones,
The spray of blood on rock.

All praise the big yellow taxi.

The newbies come.
They master the moves, the holds, the beta.
They learn to push not pull,
To pay attention to the rope,
To trust themselves.
They want more.

It is the ones who do not fear
You learn to watch.
The ones that push their bodies
Past hunger and exhaustion
You cannot trust.

A moment of inattention.

Sometimes they make the national news.
Sometimes statistics in a dry report.
Close enough is good enough.
You hear their pornographic ramblings on Special K.
You see the small quiet group in the evening bar,
The story many times retold transforms.
Do you remember when…
The curve of stitches on a scalp become,
A badge of honour not a warning.
Pain forgotten.

The arms that tire,
The feet that slide,
The gear that fails,
The block that moves.

The newbies come and come
And there are things we do not say –