“Thirteen Thousand Feet” by Steve Mandes


I leaned forward into a mountain in Colorado

hiked up over the tree line—

looked out over the vast valley below,

saw the cloud heavy sky merge with mountain tops while cold wind

raced downward,

invisibly eroding the terrain.


I rested on a sandstone rock once submerged in an ancient sea.

Studied my hands covered in dust,

felt my face burnt by the sun.

Breathing cold crisp air

I found my mind letting go

of office doors and desks cluttered with tablets of to-do lists.


Listening to the echoes of wind

I looked over the valley and started

seeking the sixth grade God I once knew

and there,

after feeling the cool wind  wash over my face

as the great silence whooshed aloud between endless mountain

and the flat white splattered  sky


I knew I had to let go of that old sixth grade God-


replace him with a God more powerful than a commandment-

the God that moves down a mountain

shaping the planet,

shaping me.