The explorer on Radio Four describes how men
climb mountains because they can’t give birth
and be mothers, how time and heat
are crucial for Alpine adventurers.
I imagine a scattering of climbers
blurred like birds on a cliffside.
Caught alone in a blizzard
one has lost a leg below the knee,
frost has bitten off another’s fingers and toes
five days trapped in an avalanche.
I want to call them all home.
They shed extremities, while I gain
ten carabiner toes dabbed dry
in a white towel’s snowstorm,
looped arms slung around mine
in the crevasse between sleep and wakefulness,
thighs which gripped my waist in infancy
clamp on five years later
preparing for cols and peaks
on the ropes of my time and my heat.
Extremities by Claire Williamson won second prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (November 2017) judged by Abegail Morley