'Climbing' by Sarah Rice | States of Poetry ACT - Series One

 Life, like climbing, is best
accomplished if you don't look
down. Pressed up against the rock,

rock-face to face, one is safest.
Hands like to be busy, little nest-
builders, hunting for hand-

holds in the crevices and creases,
they work best in the dark,
by feel; creatures of tactility.

Feet too, like to work unhindered
by the head; plodders, doers, dour
followers of simple commands, the

dogs of the body; 'come' 'go' 'stay'.
The toes curl instinctually, toe and
ledge communicate directly. Spread-

eagled thus, we are strangely calm,
a flayed skin, stretched and pinned
at our four corners. Each hold hard

won, each inch fought for. Our centre
magically transported as each point
moves, tacked and re-tacked.

Always look the grey granite in the eye,
stare it down to its components, to bits
of black quartz and white quartz, to its

mineral heart. Look to the basest element.

Sarah Rice

Sarah Rice

Sarah Rice

Sarah Rice won the inaugural 2014 Ron Pretty Award, the 2014 Bruce Dawe Poetry Prize, co-won the 2011 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize, and was shortlisted in the 2013 Montreal Poetry Prize and the 2013 Tom Howard Poetry Prize. Her poetry has appeared in Those Who Travel (Ampersand Duck, 2010), Global Poetry Anthology, Award Winning Australian Writing, Best Australian Poetry, Island, Southerly, and Australian Poetry Journal.