Kilimanjaro Sunrise

The alarm rings, it is midnight
A breakfast hastily downed
We set out to climb Kilimanjaro
A few distant clouds tease the horizon
Into the darkness we are flung up against the mountain
Just as the stars
Are glitter flung up against an inky black canvas
Just as hikers are flashlights flung up against Kilimanjaro
Our flashlights form a constellation of its own
To join the constellations celestial
Inching it’s way up the mountain
Seconds blur into minutes into hours
You only see by flashlight
The feet of the person ahead
Your vision a chiaroscuro created by flashlights legs and rocks
The air is thin and ill affords conversation
The hike metamorphosizes into a dream
A dream haunted by the lack of oxygen
Take a step gasp take another step
Kilimanjaro looms against the stars
The hours pass and nothing changes
The constellation of flashlights winks against the constellations celestial
Africa falls away
Leaving only you and Kilimanjaro
The crescent moon a whisper of silver
Reflects off an ocean of glowing clouds
Horizon to horizon
Clouds like supplicants come to witness
Kilimanjaro upthrust
Roof of Africa
And you near that roof
Suddenly you are on the plateau rim
Glaciers fringe your vision
Here 6000 meters above sea level
A landscape reminiscent of Mars exists
Brown volcanic dirt highlights shining glaciers
Glinting in the day’s newly minted sunrise
Fragile toast to a warming earth
Remnant of the Holocene
Bugle call of the Anthropocene
The glaciers melt tears
Tears wept unseen to the volcanic dirt
The roof of Africa
Harbinger of our future
“I saw glaciers on Kilimanjaro in 2016”
“Now there is only dirt”
Dirt and humans being photographed at Uhuru peak
Dirt and the empty wind questing for lost glaciers
Dirt and the chimera of tears shed by melted glaciers
Dirt and the hollow vacuum of dead glaciers
Dirt and the silent echo of stunning, shining, glaciers gone
Lost glaciers that had greeted the sunrise for millennia

No place for them in the Anthropocene
Barren Kilimanjaro will still stand
White crown destroyed
Still beautiful, still breathtaking
But different
Those summit sunrises will never be the same
Sunshine will never kiss ice
The newly born sunrise cannot uncloak shining glaciers to our delight
A planet changed, a present lost
Witness Kilimanjaro’s beauty ephemeral
Before only dirt and memoriesdsc_0866

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