The ascent is almost musical;
the slow switchback trudge,
air singing green,
ferns crowding around the feet of firs,
Darrell’s tin cup clanking like a tone-deaf cymbal.

We rise to snowline,
field of white silence
interrupted by patches of green and gray,
boots crunching fresh snow.

On the peak
we drop our heavy bags;
my pulse throbs.
A chorus of hills
gradually descends to the crimson horizon.
Only the sound of our breath
clouds the limitless hum.

The chai boy’s job is to sell tea. In the morning, he’s running around. In the afternoon, you don’t see him, but then in the evening when everyone’s out in the street you see him again. He’s another part of the cycle of life in the village.

Pipkin: Is this a poem of celebration or of loneliness?

Shirazi: Both. It is of celebration because we’re still holding on to our culture, but at the same time, we’re very far away from our family. There isn’t anyone else that we’re celebrating with, so there is some loneliness.