We called off the search,
and the weary climbed down from the glacier
with their dogs exhausted in the spring sun
too tired to eat the ice in their paws.
We had called his name, mostly for show,
a ritual that kept us moving: in the high bowls,
their stunted pines predating the flood,
in the steep ravines sliding loose with scree,
loudly at first, then speaking it to each other
then spelling it out on forms required by law.
It is a form of praying, he claimed, to walk
out to the very edge of your life. Every time
the reply comes clear as a stone
at our thin crowns. It misses
almost every time, humming as it goes.