he’ll drag a mountain up the pass –
pack crammed with silk and sacks of rice;
along the ridge he’ll never slack,
slip or stumble – forward always,
never back; past the plane wreck, past
a yeti’s spoor in his ladakh
of snow-white mountain stacks: the yak.
his shaggy hair, the shaman’s head…
and on his tongue a smack of milk
so fat he’ll never lack for grass;
hard to watch a draft beast racked so –
up tracks, through icy cataracts.
pupils as black as lacquer, and
deep within, that feeble glow: ach.
by night the bivouacs, the fires
crackling, fuelled by his sun-baked dung,
smoke carrying across the valley;
by night the arctic chill, the sparkle
of stars, the cracking glaciers, while
his massive skull keeps watch from
the gable of this shack, but ach,
but ach, yak, ach, yak, ach.