The minutes leading up to sunrise were the coldest on Mt. Talamitam. That day, you held my hand as the sky was being ripped by pretty strips of dawn, like flesh being torn by a knife, but instead of blood, out gushed light, and morning exploded. You kissed me, and there it was, finally. Warmth.

But then you let go and skipped over to a rock. You wanted to pray. Faith gripped you the way fear did most people — you’d close your eyes and murmur a novena for lost souls. Sometimes, like that morning, you’d ask me to join, but I’ve long lost interest in things divine. Not too long ago, you started including me in your prayers, hoping to force a miracle. I laughed in disbelief.

Meanwhile, I thought of summits as holy grounds, and just like that, we were bound together in a fellowship of sorts. You carried the weight and I followed your footsteps, fallen leaves crunching under my feet. I held onto branches and on to you to hoist myself up. I scrambled up rocks and with words. You, on the other hand, smiled through brisk assaults and have been through this a thousand times before, telling me to pack only essentials the next time. It took a while before I realized that up there, with you, I didn’t really need much else.

The minutes leading up to the sunset are the most beautiful here, but you will never get to see. I remember your hands clasped in prayer as day tucks comfortably into night, ushering the stars to their places and darkness to its reign. The sky steals back all light, all life, and evening sneaks in without a word, like eyes closing and denying any more sights,  surrendering to eternal sleep.

The mountain thinks it’s the same. But without you, it’s wrong.

Mt. Talamitam. 2013.
Apologies to Dean Young.


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