I still dream sometimes about the man on Everest
who sent others down to safety while he stayed
with the novice who’d refused to turn back at the appointed hour,
whose fever to summit killed them both.
From above, watching the storm move in,
he doubtless understood they measured life in hours,
but bent industriously to chip ice from his regulator.
The greedy man died first, his appetite for new experiences
satiated by this final thing, unexpected and absolute.
I imagine darkness and penetrating cold
less terrifying than the veteran’s awareness
of his solitude at 29,000 feet. I imagine his pregnant wife,
patched through via satellite phone to the top of the world,
their conversation that night a last inestimable grace.

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Sara Anderson is a native Iowan. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and daughter. She has an affinity for tuxedo cats.