Artist Statement:

This poem is entitled “”Salvation” and it tells the story of my journey hiking Mt. Ascutney, in Vermont with a band of close friends who were all interested in hiking.

 

You’ll notice that it was day when the hike began, and it progressed to the night, which is when the hike ended; you’ll also notice that the imagery changes as the hike progresses, with rain at the base of the mountain,  suddenly turning to blizzard conditions at the summit, and back to normal at the base of the mountain. While clearly not intentional, it can be said that the weather also symbolizes the rising and falling action of the hike.


I rolled my ankle so many times because I have bad balance induced from a Traumatic Brain Injury secondary to a Motor Vehicle Accident in 2006. This was a very painful hike, but brought me closer than ever before to the friends that I hiked with; it taught me that it was okay to depend on others.

 

I wrote this poem as a tribute to the hike that changed my life in more ways than one.

 

I was twenty at the time of the composition of this poem; I had been twenty-one since September 13. I am a writer and rhyming poet. I am currently a student of Creative Writing and want to be a teacher, eventually progressing to collegiate level instruction,  so that I may profess the delicate art that is creative writing.

 

Salvation

J. L. Severance

 

It was day, and ascending the mountain, I was wondering if I had made a mistake.
It has been the fourth time I had rolled my ankle today.
My hands were raked with splinters from wooden poles, dirt, and my feet were wet from rain and mountain shoals.
Rain was falling, and the summit was calling out my name.
This mountain wasn't the same as the ones I hiked prior.
As we ascended still, it was now snowing.
The icy wind was blowing, chilling my hands, locking them into place.
I couldn't feel my hands, even if I had touched my face.
BOOM!
CRUNCH!
CRACK!
Are we under attack?
The apparent assailant is Mother Nature.
Shit.
Ice was falling from the trees, the world being destroyed around me.
Poor old Devin Bender got struck by falling ice he couldn’t see.
Laughter.
We’ll go for pizza after.
I couldn't see anything out of this newfound fog
We can do this! WE’RE MEN.
Seven with the courage of ten thousand.
We approached a watchtower: let’s ascend the stair.
Not rare, I fall fall from the stairs,
But this time, it is not at all like the other times I fell
Because down a spell was a small precipice.
“Oh my brothers! Jayme has fallen!"
“Quickly!”
“Has he hit his head?”
“”He ain’t movin’. Is he dead?”
Shakily, I rose halfway,
Almost as if to say, “FUCK YOU, MOUNTAIN!”
“Jayme, are you alright?”
“You fell quite a ways down. We couldn’t sight you anywhere near or around.”
But then, I gave in.
You win mountain.
“Take me home.”
“But we’re at the summit, it’s a long way back. We can’t get immediate help. Why don’t you rest? You, yourself, some?”
“I’m fine, let’s go.”
Ironman of the clan.
This clan of men.
“Slowly rise my friend, there will be rewards in the end.”
Amid the slosh and freezing wash we took a moment at the summit.
We read poetry and recited the Bible.
I took a moment after everyone was ready to go.
Normally, my spirituality is low in reality, but at that moment, I felt as though God was watching.
He must have been.
We knew this when, from the desolate tundra, splotches of sunlight came through the monotonous sky.
I found my salvation.
Let us go.
Goodbye mountain, you fought well, but I’m afraid it’s time to go home and rest a spell.
I fell many more times on the way down, and rolling my ankle.
How many times now? Six?
I must confess, I can’t remember amid the mix of nature’s tricks.
We continued our descent into winding and rewinding madness.
My teeth were grinding from the pain, it seldom waned.
Dramatic shift from tundra to wet wilderness woods once again.
Closer to the end, than never before.
I’m teased with the thought of a door leading to bad nutrition.
Closer to the end, than never before.
I can’t hold on, so I dragged my guides at my sides.
Closer to the end, than never before.
You said that already, and still there’s more!
Neverending, like a bad dream from which you cannot wake.
For Christ’s sake, when will it end!?
“And where is Devin Bender?”
“Is he ahead? At the car?”
“There he is! And he’s barefoot?”
The bottoms of his feet were covered in apparent soot.
“Y’know, it’s not far.”
Closer now, than ne-
STOP SAYING THAT!
A staircase, and we weren't at the tower.
I saw a yellow flower.
Closer now, than never before.
But this time, I knew the advice was on the dime because I saw the cars on which we rode.
Maybe I’ll be in bed, sleeping at last.
It had turned from day to night.
A group of men hiked a mountain, one of them found God.

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