“Relievo” by Cris Brodahl, 2010. Oil on Linen.


Mountain (Relievo)


And when you climb,

Anticipate the weight

Of the journey—

Rope, pick,

Pack, piton—


The deceptiveness of glaciers,

The hut you never reach, the gorge

That takes you, without warning,

To the bosom of the earth.


Don’t ask yourself

Why you are here—

You know.


You are encumbered

Even standing still, even

If you never had begun the climb.


Wet snow, waterfall, shock

Of edelweiss—

This is your native land,

Beautiful Yeti—

The eye that stares out from the stone

Is yours—

Fear of steepness,

Wariness of ice,

Your birthright.



The pull of your calves,

Your hands’


On each crevice,

And, arriving at the peak,

The sway of your own heart.


Let yourself be slight

And the mountain immeasurable.

The rock

Cradles your bones inside:



The raised contours of the face—

You see yourself

In relief.


©2010 by Katherine Grace Bond. Written as part of the Seattle Art Museum’s SAM Word Program, in response to Cris Brodahl‘s “Mountain” exhibit.


Ekphrastic Poem–“Mountain (Relievo)” after Cris Brodahl
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