by F. J. Bergmann

The children learned mountain-climbing
from the goats they watched, leaping
from crag to crag as the high sun lit
snowy peaks. Sometimes they heard 
the light click of steps on stone during 
pauses in the giddy shrieks and laughter, 
fading, just out of sight, or a strange, soft
breathing behind them as they ran home
in the dark. When one boy climbed
into the clouds and did not come back,
the men went out with ropes and torches. 
They found him huddled in a litter 
of shed fur, feathers, and tiny bones,
a skullful of wild berries set beside him,
his broken leg splinted carefully. Snow
around the cave was freshly trodden
with cloven hoofprints. They hid and 
waited fearfully for it to come back, 
cornered it against a sheer escarpment, 
and buried it under a cairn of stones 
with a stake through its broken heart.

F. J. Bergmann lives at the center of the world, or so the map claims — a center, anyway — growing pears, cherries, apples, strawberries, and raspberries, and making nasturtium ice cream. Recent endeavors include the web design for Eye to the Telescope and the editorship of Star*Line. "Favorite" would, as always, be the craving of the moment: in this case, durian — in the form of ice cream, it has a disgusting odor, but an extraordinary flavor (like lutefisk, another acquired taste, impossible to recall when one is not in the midst of consuming it).

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