I’ll Love You Until the End of the World
by Jill Mceldowney
The summit of Everest
is the size of a dinner table.
We touch hands across it in the dimly lit restaurant.
I always think of you as dead—
to know and though I know
that there is always something to be made from pain,
I don’t want this
to be another night.
I don’t want this to be how I last remember you.
Don’t let this be the last time
your hands gather on my body
not this passage of bread,
not my body filling, drowning
while the scene is fading. I want you to say
“Never leave me”
and I will live
here with you even if it means being ice,
if it means taking off my clothes
in the no air here
on the monochromatic silence of sky
cooling, injured, beginning,
my breathing clawing how I want it. I want
this glistering black mountain, graveyard of scaleless fish in the
wind’s tide, glowing out from the spine.
In this you,
there can be no aftermath.
And I don’t know why I can’t stop
trying to prove love is more final than death,
trying to bring you back
from the dead.
Maybe I know the dead
don’t like to be alone.
Maybe I like the climb—
the raw, the serac, the telephone ringing.
What is it—
the air, the lack
that has me eaten
say that is a once in a lifetime kind of pain—
a pain that only helps me understand other pain.
I want to know what actually happened
to your mind,
if only to understand what is going to happen to my own,
this high up where the cameras stop working or what is captured
on film is never believed.
You say to me: “If you are sleepless, know you are awake
in someone else’s dream.”
But what does it mean
that I am dreaming of you?
I am dreaming of the dead.
On this planet of distance,
in this house of regret
the upper rooms are haunted and ghosts
keep the lights on at strange hours,
never leave when asked.
never come when called.
The telephone is ringing and the dead on Everest answer:
“I am so cold—please
don’t cry. Everything will be fine.”
“Why aren’t you coming back?”
Let me tell you what a ghost is—
against the things that want to hurt you.
I will talk out loud to keep them away—
the future begging—
for something to eat.
Image: @artbalistkiy / stock.adobe.com