Like many others before and since I learned

How to be both big and small from Ernest.

And many have noted

How very well he knew to be himself.

But those of us who thrilled, who longed, for those adventures

Not of the body but of the soul

But were diverted, by pain, by cowardice, by chance

By the simple incapacity to perceive oneself in a golden light

By a tremor in the belly that refused to be quieted

Or minimized, and, in final truth

By lack of talent, sought nonetheless the glow

That even in a pinch will pass as bliss.

I sat at a wooden table with an artist friend

In the ivied hall where we both hid in youth

And planned, in a moment, to flee to freedom, but

The small was easy, particularly

In this diminished age, when all are grand

And the great ignored or soon forgotten, and

Suffering on wide display is seen as courage

And the second coming has come and gone

And left behind such unremarkable wreckage

Hardly noticed by those who waited far too long.

The mountains climbed, though steep and breath absorbing

Then, turned out to be mere hills, from which the view

Of the surrounding world was scant. We then sallied home

Content, in moments, with having walked at least

Or in truth at times crawled

Over obstructions he would have taken

In a single bold step.  We thought, at least

Of greatness and knew enough to know

That we were the Sherpas of the Everest climb

And through him, however drunk or misogynistic

We glanced, we thought, and we turned away.