Claire Climbs Everest

by Sam Harvey

Claire wants to know what it means when everyone leaves
her and what am I supposed to tell her?
Even when the fuzzy-haired cello kid packs
all of his posters into sleek, cardboard tubes and neatly
sequesters all the grinning pictures of him and Claire into
the corner of an Easy-Bake Oven box and then
unmanifests destiny straight to New Haven, CT.
When everyone explodes away from you
like you are the core of a firework, a chrysanthemum unfurling
in grief above small groups of people here and there
in pontoon boats, on worn, checkered blankets.
I go home some weekends to find
Claire’s bedroom covered in little mountains
of socks and t-shirts, the range across which she has trekked,
wrapped in her fleece throw, everything
beating against her from all directions, out
her door, around the corner and through the portal
of mom’s room, to be close to her source
of love; the Sherpa, cheeks flush rose with the cold,
that lead her through the eyelet of clouds
to the summit, cradled her at the lip of a great cornice
and with a sweep of her hand said
everything is loss, the horizon forever
receding away. We are always being left.
I don’t have mom’s eloquence so I tell her,
Look girl.
Soak for a while in the bubble bath of grief.
Loss is rudimentary: it’s
Algebra-1. It’s a C major scale.
And Claire digs through a scree of tie-dye at
the base of one of the mountains to find a shirt that
dad left her two years ago.
She emerges with it clenched in her fist like a trophy,
like a fistful of snow from the white crown of Everest.