Ascent of The Blind: Climbing in Guilin

Elisa Ip, University of British Columbia


Body flush against the slick cool face, I lunge
in hopes of a hidden lip of rock
a kiss between finger tips.
Jagged limestone bites
into my palms.

The rhythmic cry of a great cuckoo
presses against my ears.
The soft click and woven threads,
between my legs,
holding my life.

The rock has been inscrutable,
but I climb higher.
The wind welcomes my lone form.
And twists
me around, so I struggle to regain the ladder

of lichen and moss,
the scent of sweet metal,
spongy lichen
mixed with dried earth.
I swing free

take in the gurgle of a tiny waterfall.
To my left, crystal cool droplets
mist my skin.
Fingers follow hidden fissures,
a labyrinth of hollows and cracks.

The rock whispers secrets through each finger.
A rock spins free into space.
I don’t hear the thud.
Still I climb, intoxicated.

The great cuckoo clocks the last few meters
before fingers close around cool steel,
the apex of the pitch.
The wind has ceased.
Now, I face only the cliff.

Elisa Ip is in her second year of University. She is equally passionate about literature, biology, and writing. A glimpse of her bookshelf would reveal titles from the romantic poets, Orwell, Conrad, and the latest biology research. Elisa is a self-professed walking contradiction, for despite her physical and visual impairments, she enjoys rock climbing, football/soccer, and painting. She believes in living with intensity, to live every moment to the fullest and to find beauty in peace and adversity. For as Keats says:

“beauty is truth, truth beauty/
That is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.”