As Far as Allowed

August is Summer Reading Month in Daily Nutmeg, and Claire Zoghb is this week’s featured author. Please enjoy these poems from Zoghb’s chapbook Dispatches from Everest.

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Last Scene:

tiny figures like
two monks on pilgrimage
in ink-washed robes
ascending a narrow ridge
going strong for the top

dark grey proceeding
through white
the way ink
edges across paper
traveling among fibers

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Yale University Art Gallery - A Nation Reflected: Stories in America Glass

only as far as allowed
the paper swallowing
water all the while

permitting only
palest of dried traces
to remain footprints
on the sacred


26,760 feet

Everybody on the mountain could listen in on our radio conversations. If we found something, we didn’t want some other expedition breaking the news to the world. “Boulder” was the code word for “body.” –Conrad Anker

They found you, one alabaster buttock
worshipping blue-black sky.

Wool, cotton and silk
unwove their threads
in 150-mph winds,
your skin intact,
fibers holding.

When I saw the photo—
Conrad Anker hovering
over your nakedness, Yeti-sized
in his down and kevlar—I was
ashamed for you

then remembered
your penchant for skinny-dipping,
posing nude for Duncan Grant’s lens (driving
those male Bloomsbury bohemians mad),
cavorting au naturel on neat English lawns
and stifling Asian jungles
and suddenly you looked at home,
Anker, now the alien, sliding on scree.

Missing from the photo: the hole,
gouged in your right buttock, big enough
for a gorak—the big black raven
that haunts the high Himalaya—to enter
and consume your organs one by one,
burrowing to your heart.

Only then did the mountain
give itself to you.

And from its summit,
flies a plume of snow
like a silken Buddhist scarf,
a blessing.

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Dispatches from Everest by Claire Zoghb
Fomite, 2017
Where to buy: RJ Julia | IndieBound | Amazon

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