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ODE TO SKIING
Skiing is a mode of living:
Life is now, an affirmation,
time in motion and elation.
Carpe diem ! Life is skiing.
Skiing is a state of being: happy trance
in blinding light or blanket mists,
on perfect runs or frozen pistes :
a drugless high, a game of chance.
Skiing is a form of movement therapy — away
from doing and producing, letting play
be raison d’être, jousting like once valiant Ivanhoe,
inventing brave full-body tournaments in snow..
Mountains itch with skiers striving
strenuously for citius, altius, fortius —
not pausing for the vast, majestic views,
just racing on — and not arriving….
Reckless in vitality, forgetting to relax —
we jump, we fall, we rise with youthful hopes,
in fast and furious dance we take the slopes,
we laugh and race the blues, the reds, the blacks!
We laugh and ski and merry be
and merry be, Oh! how we ski!
We laugh and sing and merry ski
those minefield moguls wild and free.
So wild and free, hors piste we dare,
while magic lies upon the conifers,
the winds composing their own verse,
and sundust glistening in air.
O happy Dionysian metaphor:
white oceans undulating to a distant shore,
a body bath in speed inebriation
narcissistic and mercurial in expression.
Boarders need good guardian angels, patron saints,
like Don Quixote charging windmills recklessly,
like brazen mountain goats defying gravity
when jumping cliffs with no regrets and no restraints.
Like young Icarus skiers soar in ecstasy,
as avalanches sweeping down in anarchy.
For style I laud instead the dancing telemark
who swing in rhythm, turning skiing into Art.
Yet youngsters seldom slalom — jubilant they race
like arrows headlong down the satin pistes, they chase
each other etching on the powder slopes their trace,
Alhambran arabesques of alpine lace.
On canvas three-dimensional they boldly sign,
but soon they wipe each other’s traces line on line.
They write emotions like beach frolickers on sand,
ephemeral, erased by radiant Phoebus’ hand.
The latest trend: the fearless parapent with skis.
From lofty slopes they slide airborn in Genesis.
Above the pristine snows they float in silent flight,
they glide in solitary, pantheistic rite.
Moutain music: swishing sounds of skis and boards on snow,
Winds sweeping over slopes: a murmuring adagio…
brooks babbling near the pistes… How water speaks!
Above a solemn silence reigns on solitary peaks.
Winter clouds shape sculpture over skiers’ sky,
Ephemeral like garlands, white camelias,
Winter cirrus, strains of maiden hair, bohemian glass,
Angelic forms that waft and sanctify.
Snow faeries fill the air with fleeting ice,
the crystal spray enchanting skiers’ eyes.
A myriad diamonds glitter on the trail.
Rejoice! for skiing is a faery tale.
Beware though: winter witches practice frosty sorceries!
In Belalp witches squeal when riding brooms on magic skis,
they conjure mountain spirits, spraying wildly white on white,
they frolic casting spells upon the crests in hedonistic flight.
Kaleidoscope of uncontrolled emotion,
carnival of masks and colourful commotion,
fine hyperbole and metaphor of liberty,
for skiing is a festival of anonymity.
Behold: the broken rock asserts itself on high,
attaching to the blueness of the winter sky.
Black cliffs pierce through the untouched snow–
and higher glides the elegant jackdaw.
Snow blankets sparkle three dimensional,
when sunrays touch the crystals, make them shine.
Alive, they spring, they scintillate ephemeral,
remind us that each moment is divine.
The virgin snow seems sugar sweet,
like icing shaped by colder winds
that whirl at night until they meet–
in twisting dance around the peaks.
We skiers know the paradoxes of the glacial sun,
hands warm in muffs, hearts joined in amorous frisson.
From valleys dim we pierce through stratus to the height,
on radiant summits we breathe life, breathe light.
Glacier skiing, glacier glories, glacier charms:
the price is often pushing, pushing with your arms,
not quite cross-country, heavy on the knees,
yet genial for the soul, no matter if we freeze!
There blue-green glaciers silently regress,
their rigid walls disguising danger
in sheer beauty — broken crevasses
and crystal castles dazzling every skier.
Enticing ice builds blocks of rugged ruins:
Glaciers — witnesses of generations.
Perspiring mountains in the flaming ice
wield edges sharp as swords of paradise.
Skiing is communion with creation,
with a host of wild terrestial treasures.
Skiing offers rapid sensual pleasures,
deeper yet a spiritual initiation.
Skiing is a cosmic soul epiphany,
a vigorous, dynamic fantasy,
a vital self-libation for creation,
Thanksgiving for each revelation.
Skiing is a school that unites nations
cultures, languages and generations.
Youngsters, seniors and all in-between
are drawn by nature’s bounty, nature’s sheen.
We skiers hanker for infinity
when chasing ever faster after destiny!
Past icicles, trees draped in ermine white we fly,
a tip toe star smiles on us with a winking eye.
We gaze upon the rabbit’s trace,
which noonday heat will soon erase.
Its imprints seem so blue upon the white —
its daily search for food in winter’s plight.
Below in valley villages the alpine cows
find shelter, while their bells with chapel bells
resound. There too the pious peasant dwells,
still one with nature through primeval vows.
Pre-Christmas skiing, feeling young and lean–
our hearts and limbs rush with adrenaline,
old instincts come alive in alpine merriment
our appetite for empty slopes and white Advent.
O wondrous winter skiing, symbiotic sun and cold!
O Janus joys of ying and yang for young and old!
O summer skiing, glacier skiing, sun-burn skiing
in t-shirts or bright bikinis well-worth seeing!
Late spring skiing, though, is canine skiing, satisfies
alone addicted skiers with heroic thighs,
who navigate through heavy slush and greening shoots
in melting snow, avoiding rocks and naked roots.
Red snowplows rumble after hours, packing white on white,
their beacon eyes illuminating empty slopes at night,
preparing well-groomed, sensuous boulevards aloft,
where skiers slide as once on flying carpets silken soft.
Snow canons silver spray scraped pistes and scraping skiers,
tempting youngsters to intrepid, acrobatic change of gears.
Snowmobiles and helicopters rush to rescue, whisk
the injured to repair and rehab: Fun comes with its risk!
Behold the alpine chapels with their spires,
the snowbound chalets with their pinewood fires.
Tonight we drink vin chaud and can relax,
but now we race the blues, the reds the blacks!
Race on! For skiing is a state of being:
Living now, in affirmation,
taking time and space in exaltation.
Homo ludens: Sport is Being!
(c) Alfred de Zayas, earlier versions of this poem were published in UN Special No. 692, February 2010, p. 35, and in the literary journal of the University of British Columbia Esoteric, to celebrate the Whistler Olympics.