I can feel my bones hardening, a stolid ache of the marrow like monoliths being built under the skin. I have spilled more blood in the last five months than life ever taught me was even mine to spill. The flesh of my lip split into ribbons is the prettiest pink, I see, soft and newborn and a flower springing out amidst decay, as I stand in the mirror in true form, a landscape of gashes like canyon walls viewed by vultures.

If the sun is not out to pull me from roots, then into the soil I sink. And my yawns are continents shifting, the groans of plates brushing shoulders and oiled by dust. There was a day when my mother let me down out of her arms, like some lamb, and she never picked me up again, and we marked the occasion on no calendar kept upon the fridge, just as the first-breath squalling of my last rosebud cells fell upon ears made deaf by inattention. I am not yet old, but I was finally young long ago. On some nights when you are away, the sheets open beneath me and in the blankness behind my lids I feel myself fall, until I am away, too.

The clock’s hands are cuffed behind its back, and it sways in rough rhythm through some lushness in my mind, the way I imagine my grandfather being led out at gunpoint to die, as the story was told to me. He didn’t, because he had a painter’s eyes and steady hands, and perhaps in some attic of Soviet ruin there lies the moldering portrait of one of Stalin’s men, an early draft of the blueprints of my birth, framed, and, if I’m as lucky as I feel, gilded.

I never knew him well, but I recognize his trees along the banks of the river that I follow, upstream in time, and his father’s before his are of a bark I have never seen, but they feel familiar in their strength under my fingertips, and I continue through mankind’s greenery, and we are all the same at one water’s edge. I venture to discover if Isolde really did live, to know what her kisses tasted like. I want to feel Neruda’s poetry the way that he did, flawless as experience, before all that remained were words like scars. I see him sitting there in exile, no choice left him but to paint the face of his own petrifaction, until the room was full of love, or until they found him dead.

Andrew Tristan Lenec grew up at the foot of one of the East Coast’s most popular climbing destinations, and has still never touched any rock there. He enrolled at the New School University in Manhattan to study Creative Writing before leaving the city and moving to Hawaii, where he eventually received a degree in Music and was discovered by climbing. After spending time in Australia and the Pacific, Andrew moved to Boulder to pursue the sport and in a futile attempt to sate his wanderlust. He is currently an Instructor at ABC Kids Climbing and, when not working with children, can usually be found in one of the city’s many parks with his nose as far in a Kindle as one’s nose can be, because actual printed books are unfortunately too heavy and cumbersome to travel around with constantly.