“Paradise on the Mountain” by Steve Vittori

Aptly named at the end of the road:

Paradise.

Crossed off the list of places

you’d been.

You, sled master in yards

of sloped streets in

lowlands of Puget Sound,

with long-awaited,

short-lived snowfalls.

 

The paved Paradise lot.  A mile

up the mountain. Your sled set free

from our trunk’s clutter.

Your frozen face, bare in an

otherwise bundled body, froze me,

transmitted its fears.

I trailed your gaze to the peak,

the way pockmarked by ice,

crevasses.  Rocky outcrops of

Nisqually Glacier between it and us.

 

I said, “You think you’re going there?”

Your silent reply: a barely thawed nod.

I said an encouraging word, “No.”

You’re not going that way.  Not this day.

You loosened up, had a blast

in safe, groomed snow,

maintained for your play,

young adventurer.

 

A few years later.

At Paradise again, a friend along.

Seasoned hiking boots replaced

saucer sled as

your way forward.

A day warm enough for shorts,

tee shirt, exuberance.

Off in a straight, uphill line,

your idea, I sensed, to scale

the summit.

I said, “You think you’re going there?”

Your silent reply: a confident, vigorous nod.

I said a discouraging word, “No.”

You’re not going that way.

Not this day.

You scaled back plans, had

a blast on tame, settled snow

within your parents’ sight,

young adventurer.

 

Among Steve Vittori’s published poems, “Tinker to Evers?” appeared originally in the journal Spitball in 1989. It later appeared in the anthology At The Crack of the Bat, edited by Lillian Morrison, in 1992, and on baseball-almanac.com. Vittori is originally from southern New Jersey, but has lived on the Kitsap Peninsula since 1978, and in Gig Harbor since 2000. He has been employed full-time as an engineer (now retired), and a part-time community college instructor (welding technology).