Archived: The Mountain by Madeline Wiseman

A cold dark morning. 
Morning filled with excitement and expectations
Excitement for the challenge ahead
Ahead, The Mountain. Blocking out the sunrise.
Blocking the way to the summit.
Way. A dark rocky path with countless turns and twists.
Turns that lead surprising directions with new paths.
Twists with holes and rocks that distract.
Rocks that delay, holes that stumble-
Delay, but do not stop. 
Stop. But keep going. 
Going up, up, up, up.
Up above the treeline,
Above the lakes and the campers down below. 
Campers, wanderers, hikers, people.
Hikers before and behind - always.
Behind, lakes, lovely and memorable.
Lovely place to sit, to watch. 
Watch, distracted, snack, rest.
Rest, slip, slide, fall. 
Fall down, feel pain, close eyes.
Down, down into a spiral of self-pity and loathing.
Pity, regret, loss, lost. 
Lost. Can’t even find what’s inside.
Inside - a conflicted, hidden, difficult, struggle.
Struggle, stuck. 
Stuck until the only way is up.
Up, opening eyes. A decision. A choice.
Decision to try. 
Try, strive, struggle. Do.
Struggle, stand back up.
Backpack on and keep hiking.
Hiking up, one step at a time.
Up, even though the ridge isn’t visible, 
Even though tired and weary.
Weary. See something in the semi-darkness.
Something, the light. The ridge. 
Light. Stumbling into the warmth and beauty. 
Beauty, a view of the rest of The Mountain.
Beauty and Hope. 
Hope, a chance.
That chance. 

Biography: Last spring I had the wonderful opportunity to take a literature class at Aims that showed me that I could love writing even as a self-professed STEM major studying biology. Poetry was something I always admired from a distance, but it was not until I took this class that I realized it was a way for me to express emotions that I could not capture with prose. While I had practical experience in climbing 14ers like Pikes Peak, there are much larger metaphorical mountains in life. Everyone has their struggles, but what matters is what we do with ours. Although I did not realize it at the time of writing this poem, my Mountain would get much bigger – although it would be rewarding as well. Not long after submitting this work, I was accepted to Columbia University where my long-term goal is to pursue an MD. Inspired by my incredible literature professor, I have continued to pursue literature in my free time and to use my writing as a creative outlet.