Painting by Carly Creley

End Song
by John Brantingham

The only secret you need to know 

to walk above the High Sierra tree line

is slow silence. Look down on the pine

trees, breathe, and allow yourself to go

the speed your body wants. Listen to pika

calling to each other, the final songs

of animals dying of heat. They will be gone

in the next summer or perhaps they may

last a few years but take the time anyway 

to listen to their voices as you refill

your body with air, as you stare out across

a hundred miles of mountains in the dropping day

at a moment that might be the end of all

and everything. Listen to this song of loss.