I’d thought forgetting
was this inescapable release

the way finally I could not help
letting go of your hands
and watching you fall, eternally,
down the mountainside.

For hours I’d held you
gripped you so hard
the bones shuddered in my arms
but then the numbness began,
spread through my hands
into my shoulders. You saw
and turned your face toward
the distance, saying softly:
“Let me go.” And I opened
the frozen hooks of my fingers
and you fell; a tiny blue
coat and hat plummeting
into the past.

But something remained —
was it just the bite
of the wind? And because
of this I’ve invented
a small college;
dormitories, offices, fenced-in yards.
Here, one day, in some high-windowed
room, the rememberers will assemble
to fashion their oblique tribute.

They will analyze the sentiments
of mountain climbers, examine
the remains of ropes and hooks,
debate the techniques of descent.
Discussion will lead to four
scholarly monographs
and, though inconclusive,
will, unexpectedly, fill me
with hope for two decades.