My friend and poet Cathy Shea wrote this, inspired by her and her husband attending the NOLS 50th year reunion later this summer. She sent it to my wife and me, and said it would be okay to share it here. (Note: I noticed one word seems to have been censored by the over-zealous anti-obscenity feature; it's alliteration and what some people think Teton means.)
—In memory of Fred Mugler, 1935–2003
Your immutable boulder of a being, faithful flannel
blending in behind the counter. Thank you for the parka
you sold me at cost, purple ripstop like bougainvillea petals,
big-toothed zipper never snagging, which protected me
in dry-powder daggers of air through miles skiing the Tetons’
ten-below ****, which chaperoned me after work
nights with my future husband. Thank you for my first
Vibram sole, stiff investment paying dividends
in un-sprained ankles.
Galaxies of stray-cat fur, orts and threads, collie hair
swirled under Promethean shelves holding up infinite
inventory, your tagline “More Patagonia than Patagonia,”
your joking and laughing, your patrons are mountain maggots—
anorexic hanky heads. Pitons, chocks, webbing
from here to Ketchikan. Patch kits
and maps of Targhee’s backside, avalanches of aluminum
pots and emerald Nalgene bottles. Ropes ready for belay,
the final markdown on bivouac sacks.
Camphor salves and lamp oil, variegated wool socks, lint
from platoons of Norwegian Army coats all fed
the terrible blaze—
ignited by your space heater, wasn’t it? A block of businesses
burnt to kingdom come and you with it—please God,
your slumber a deep diabetic coma that night.
Ashen with silt of melted glaciers, thirty years of granite dust
from terminal moraine ground into the grain of pine floorboards,
thick white hair, beard and brow, blue-gray eyes forever
alive with your rascally wit, west side of Main still
agape—your heart as big as the Grand.
—By Cathy Shea
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