The woman let off Death Row walked through a gorge
of chaotic limestone left by meltwater
and saw men everywhere climbing
steep and overhung sides, feet flexed in thin shoes, toeing
crevice after crevice. Hands pryed
the split crag for brokenness.
They hung, worked out each nodule of rock, rejecting
the frailty of this or that stone,
clicking in the knot
that would hold them from falling back to the passage.
She ignored arrows, made her own path
small-headed ferns and young ash, past a feral goat, newish
horns knuckling up, across cinquefoil-buttered
grass, near-invisible swellings
of bluebell seed, a memory of leaving home or maybe a promise.
The climbers weren't enjoying the view.
They climbed for the sake of stone.
One stopped in a patch of sun, refusing to carry on trusting
the handshake of rock and rope
though below each man another
looked up holding a thin string. She was searching for innocence
like an older woman leaning over her young husband
allowing an undoing of long hair.