Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

At the last rock of the last ledge of the last climb,
retreat blocked, he went to the edge
to look over his days and ways.

The earth lay below in colors. He watched it
with desire, but it was spread out far
far below, and was unobtainable.

At his foot was a green thing—a leaf,
slick and single, with one red berry,
had prized open a crevice in granite.

Over timberline are no trees, no bushes,
granite only, and a tremendous wind;
but the slick soft texture of the lead

and the red slick shape of the berry
had sprung from some seed, some kind of seed,
so he let them be there for him.

Though the wind made the sound of wolves, and sun
had not warmed the granite, he gathered
that he was to take heart.

Josephine Jacobsen