Sunday, December 20, 2015

High in Colorado

Looking through some of my poetry today, I came across a poem that has been published in a magazine and in my poetry book, Now Might as Well be Then.
One year, right after Christmas, Barry and I joined my brother Rex and his wife, Mary, for a skiing trip to Snow Mass Colorado. We were young and eager to go although I had never seen any real snow and had never put on a pair of skis.
Barry had lived in California before I knew him and had spent weekends skiing. He was athletic and able to play or participate in almost any sport. 

We left southwest Georgia in January where the weather was almost balmy, flew to Atlanta and changed planes. I was in my twenties and had never been on a large airplane, so the 747 with three sections of seats across amazed me.

Barry let me sit by the window and because of my nervousness and anxiety, he plied me with Bloody Marys before we boarded and then, because we were on a Champagne flight, unheard of today, the flight attendant continued to fill my little plastic glass with the bubbly. 

I am not and have never been one to drink lots of alcoholic drinks, so you can imagine the buzz I had going as we crossed the country. Large head phones covered my ears, and the most wonderful classical music filled my head. I closed my eyes and drifted off to an imaginary world while the miles fell away behind us.

When we landed in Denver, we found that all flights to the ski resorts were grounded because of a blizzard. Rex, who was stubborn and resourceful to say the least, decided to rent a car. 

"They will keep the roads open," he said. 

Although we were warned the weather was going to get worse, Rex would not give in. I was afraid for our lives as he drove through snow so thick you could not see the road ahead and could not see the side of the road that often dropped off to nothing. 

His fortitude prevailed, and by nightfall we arrived at Snow Mass Ski Resort. Our condo was perfect and at the top of a rise above the little village. Our directions were to go to a shop and retrieve skis for the next morning. We put on all our heavy clothes and walked down the road which had no snow on it. Underground pipes warmed the surface so the road stayed clear. 

Before we had walked a hundred yards on the way back carrying our skis, I had begun to feel faint. I gasped for breath, and Barry suggested we stop and rest. Even sitting on a bench, I felt that I was going to pass out. An employee of the resort stopped in his truck and offered us a ride. We gratefully climbed aboard. 

I wish I could say I was fine then, but I continued to have serious trouble breathing. I went to bed but grew more anxious as my respiratory problems increased. Rex, Mary and Barry gathered around the bed with worried looks on their faces. I'm not sure if it was concern for my health or that I was going to mess up their ski trip. I was relieved when another guest, more experienced with high altitudes, said I was having these problems because the thin air was so different from what I was used to breathing. I'll say it was different. Not humid and thick, but cold, dry and sharp. Still, I suffered all night and part of the next day.

Having never been on skis, I decided to take a lesson from a professional ski instructor. What a joke! The first thing he had us do was fall down on the snow while wearing our skis. "Now," he said. "Get up."

No way was I ever going to be able to do that. The six or seven other students managed to pop right up, but I struggled and the tanned instructor with blue eyes laughed at me. Finally he reached down and gave me a hand up. Then he proceeded to ask me where I was from. That was too funny! A girl from the deep south who had never even seen snow, had the gall to think she could learn to ski. That was the only lesson and the only time I have ever worn a pair of skis.

I spent the week inside the lodge watching people, writing about them, and feeling giddy when the cute instructor appeared. The article I wrote about this trip was my first published piece.

The poem below originated from the ski trip. I hope you like it.

High in Colorado

He poses, hip cocked in red and blue,
sun-glistened face of Eros turned to me,
a fledgling atop the icy slope. My
breath quickens in foolish adoration

at the sound of my name from his mouth.
Knees bent, I push on poles and slide
down to him, past him, racing for the edge.
"Sit down," he cries.  My legs collapse,

long shoes shoot side-wise.  I try to rise,
but can't.  He twirls, zips toward me,
digs in.  You know a mogul is a South
Georgia girl who falls and can't get up.

He laughs, his teeth like sparkling icicles.
Giddy Aspen air heliums my brain,
overflows my heart that dances in triple time.
He yanks me up, skims powder to the lift.

At sea level, snow dreams
melt into arrogant soap bubbles
as his smiling face yellows
on a faded brochure beneath my ski apparel.

First published in Georgia Magazine


Abbie Taylor said...

Don't feel bad about the skiing disaster. I've lived in Wyoming for years and never could ski. I tried both cross-country and downhill and ended up flat on my back.

Glenda Beall said...

Thanks, Abbie. I am not the only one who failed skiing 101, I guess. Have you tried snow tubing or any of those snow sports that you can sit down and enjoy?

I think I'd like to go back to Snow Mass CO but in the summer time. I think the weather would be nice and I'd find other things I could do there.

Anonymous said...

No, Glenda, I've never tried snow tubing, but I tried sledding when I was a kid and wasn't too thrilled with that, either. I'm sure Snowmass would be nice in the summer. Perhaps you could go back at that time.