Climbing Magazine

by JT Ellison

Star light, star bright,
First star I see tonight.
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.

How many stars there are.

I gaze at the night sky, inky black, a cool breeze ruffling my newly cut hair. It rained early in the evening so the air is musty, carbon-tinged. There’s Venus, Mars, the Big Dipper. The swath of wispy clouds that are really millions of stars coupled together to form our Milky Way shines with a luminosity only seen at altitude. I stand, leaning, swaying in an attempt to crane my neck backwards to see them all, these pinpricks of life. There is comfort, knowledge that somewhere else, a woman like me stares at the quickening night and sighs in time with the wind.

I got off the plane knowing a week of unassailable memories waited for me. I’d like to live here, but the constant reminders, the landscape changed yet exactly the same, the recognition would overwhelm me. The
five senses are magnified when married to nostalgia and regret. If I moved back, I’d have to go North, into the leeward mountains, or directly west, climbing until my heart raced and my breath caught in my throat. Find a new place among the familiar, with fauna for neighbors. And the scent of pine would drift through the walls of my dwelling.

A shadowy deer stands twenty feet away, being. She sniffs the air, stares at me in frank curiosity and I wonder what she’s thinking. Where to drop the late season bambi she’s carrying in her prodigious belly? Her time is near, her legs are braced in pain. The moon has risen, I can see the shivers of contractions shimmering along her flank. We are in a standoff. I sense she wants me to stay, so I wait, patiently, for her to decide. At last she nods and disappears into the brush to do her job. Loss, pain, joy — all collide in my chest. I miss her already.

I feel transparent here.
I don’t know who to be here.

A quote from Victor Hugo drifts into my mind.

Be as a bird on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her,
Still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings

Am I that bird? Or am I the frail branch, bending under the weight of a beautiful stranger?


When you wish upon a star,
Makes no difference who you are,
Anything your heart desires,
Will come to you.

It is a new day. The shockingly clear sky looks like azure paint swiped across a snow white canvas, the exact shade of blue of my husband’s eyes. I sit in the silence, reading, watching the animals. Within hours, billowy storm clouds begin to creep over the vista, blotting out the sky until all that’s left of color is a patch here and there, like he’s winking at me. I miss him.

The sky becomes a deep gray, matching the moods of two families nearby. Death has been visiting, stealing away their loved ones, people I knew. Their sadness, my sadness, is echoed in the approaching tumult.

The storm will rock the house, howl and tear, plead and bribe, beg and bully in its attempts to come indoors. The wind will whisper seductive promises against the new windows. I will not give it the pleasure. I have enough storms right now.

In the wake of the short-lived tempest, another sparkling clear night. I stand and wish upon my star, my star light, my star bright, my first star of the night. I am making more wishes than usual these days. I guess that’s natural. The unknown stretches before me.

Wine of the Week — We need a soothing selection. This wine was discovered by Murderati reader Mary-Frances Makichen, who was so incredibly kind to suggest a couple of her favorites to me.

R Stuart Big Fire Pinot Noir

9 thoughts on “Climbing Magazine

  1. pari

    It’s got to be Colorado. I can feel the cold night air, can see those stars, and know the magic of being in a place so much larger and wilder than yourself.

  2. JT Ellison

    Y’all know me too well. I get out here and get inspired to try different voices and points of view. I’ve figured the opening of book 4, have a new short brewing… it’s like tapping into this crazy well of creativity out here.

    So I thought a little short might be fun for today!

  3. billie

    Both lovely and inspiring, JT. It makes me want to get myself to a very special place in the TN mtns. where a lot of magic book stuff happens for me. I haven’t been in over a year and I think this fall I need to make it a priority.


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