No one said much on the way down the mountain.
They just tried to lash it to their memory:
The light, brighter than the sun’s glare reflected
Off the midmorning lake; the double specter
Next to him; the fear that, unbidden, tightened
Their bowels and dug its flaming fingernails
Into their bones; the smell of the dirt as they
Collapsed face-first into it; Peter’s stupid,
Panicked outburst. (The Sons of Thunder mocked him
For months, as if they’d tossed off witticisms
Instead of crying from terror.)

                                                            The vision
Wasn’t enough, as it turns out, to keep him
Faithful at the crucial moment. But later,
After things were made right, he would think of his
Betrayal as that rocky mountain soil, cracked
And sunbaked, the birds trilling as if they could
Already see the future carpet of grass.

Michial Farmer is the author of Imagination and Idealism in John Updike’s Fiction. His poems have appeared in Saint Katherine Review, FORMA, and Relief. He lives in Atlanta.

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