Ed Northen

WOUNDED WARRIORS SKIING

They swagger into the lodge
Young Veterans
On crutches
In wheel chairs

Proud of their
Amputated limbs
Paralyzed torsos
Burned, disfigured bodies

Courageously braving
Subzero temperatures
Searching for a connectivity
A prewar hope

The offer is extended
To wait for milder weather
But they defer

Accustomed to difficulties
To lifeís battles
Whether a war zone
Or rehab clinic

So the regalia commences
Donning the protective armor
Specialized cautions

Heat packs to deaden extremities
Extra hydration for the burned
Layer upon layer of clothing
Switching of prosthetic limbs

Preparation complete
Itís time for battle
Each warrior choosing
Their array of weapon

Single ski
Outriggers
Sit Ski
Snow Board

On gentle
Whitened slopes
The instruction begins

Balance
Weight
Unweight
Fall

Lean
Hold the edge
Brake

The mundane requirements
Of practice completed
Its time for boldness

The mountain looms
Steep
And technical

Loading on the ski lift
A slight nervousness ensues
Now its to the top

Cool air
Colors the cheeks
As eyes
And smiles widen

Spectacular panoramas
Lift spirits high
Above gravities restrictions

Unload from the lift chair
Its time to fly

Descending the slopes
Turns are carved
Snow sprays

Souls set free
As they ski un-tethered
unbound

At the afternoon gathering
With comrades
In the warm lodge

Stories unfold
Yarns are spun
Of bravery
Freedom

And the glory of it all
As hope blossoms

Ed Northen is a Retired Fire Captain /Paramedic who worked in the field for the last 34 years. He lives in Hailey Idaho, where he pursues his passions of environmental stewardship, hiking, backpacking and currently working as a fly fishing guide. He has been writing poetry for eighteen years, has been published in Ariel, Chimera, and Poetry Worksand reads at local poetry gatherings.