For Kate Phillips, in memory of Brendan Murphy

The news came plunging through the telephone
of the avalanche. He was cleaved to its heart,
his body not recovered: that death, alone,
was scarce more imaginable than my own.

Tirelessly, these nights, he scales again
the escarpments of my dreams: the snow-dense cloud
wakes me, shaking, defenceless, when
it cataracts down toward the small, dark men.

Summer must come (it's the pattern of these
things), ice thaw, and the seasonal rivers
flood with snowmelt, bearing to the seas
a deliquescent landscape's slopes and crevices;

from his cool storage, then, he will come
to me, come home to me, at last be freed
from the airless pressure of snowflake tons,
his summits overtopped, his ascents undone.

Kona Macphee 1997