The Benefactor

Kim Goldberg

The Benefactor ascended the mountain with the help of a jetpack, a topographical map and a mule-train we did not see. (For these aids would be cheating.) Or rather, we wrapped our eyes and stuffed our ears with daisies, to not observe the exhaust plumes from her heels. Or the raucous braying from randy mules. Or the cries from challengers as each tumbled off the cliffside of our shame and naiveté into a pit of ash at the base that slowly filled their mouths and lungs, embalming them.

The Benefactor sailed up the crag with an unnaturally smooth gait. Like those actors in a Jacques Tati movie, pulled across the stage on dollies out of frame. Days became nights became days. Her stylized ascent continued its hypnotic pace as Canada geese flew back and forth to the estuary that was ablaze. Their wings became scorched and left wispy trails of smoke behind their V formation.

We shouted up at the Benefactor to check on the geese and the fire from her lofty height. But like a Chinese dragon, she had ears that could not hear. And she had never before seen geese or fire, so would not know how to assess them even if she could hear.

From our ant farm below, questions were muttered about the constellations that had shifted their age-old position in the night skies to form a halo around the Benefactor’s rising dome.

We grew restless waiting. Someone fired up a rousing chorus from Marat/Sade. We were hungry for change. So we barbecued a mule that had fallen off the trail, as well as two geese that dropped from the sky, already barbecued.

The Benefactor was now out of sight in the sooty haze of climate fires. We realized we needed a better plan for eternity. So we began tunneling beneath the blistered earth, excavating a hibernaculum large enough to hold us all.

~

About Kim Goldberg

Kim Goldberg is a poet, journalist and the author of 8 books of poetry and nonfiction. Latest titles: DEVOLUTION (poems of ecopocalypse), UNDETECTABLE (her Hep C journey in haibun), RED ZONE (poems of homelessness) and RIDE BACKWARDS ON DRAGON: a poet's journey through Liuhebafa. She lives in Nanaimo, BC. Contact: goldberg@ncf.ca
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