Snow Cave at Summit Lake

First Jonathan,

his probe sank deep

so we turned back to sink our own

into the snow berm by the frozen tarn.

 

We took turns digging,

laughed to feel the snow pull clear,

and hit the wind over our backs,

dug down until the tundra struck our spades.

 

So deep the trench in which we stood now, four abreast,

the wrecked snow high above our heads,

blew sharp against my cheek,

and still we dug,

and hollowed out a low-slung door

or rather crawlway; shovels thwacked a fissure deep,

then wrenched it wide and hauled out chunks of snow.

We heaved them clear and bent again to scrape up what remained,

cold only when the snow worked in along my neck

or melted through my gloves.

Our snowshoes disappeared halfway in white,

jabbed upright in the berm, our poles squat X’s in-between

and still we dug

until we’d carved a dome and bunks and scraped it clean:

a windless, cozy cave to wait for dawn in.

 

Laid out on snow bunks, toes tucked deep into the down,

we curled our bodies end to end along the wall,

the ceiling curved just inches from my face.

Blue-white the light glowed through the crawlspace arch,

and all our packs stacked neat beside the boots and gear

as spindrift gathered in thick pillows out the door.

 

Quiet in the cave came quick,

we huddled close, breathed slow and rhythmic

after digging’s ache found rest in us

and sleep came late

and stayed half-heartedly till morn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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