Poem: Summiting Cerro Renca

Jan 01, 2023 by Bethel Swift, in Poetry

Summiting Cerro Renca

A whispered prayer

of gratitude

as my body returns to me.


White butterflies flit overhead,

a circle of desperate chanters below–

their pentecostal petitions rising 

towards a graffitied cross.


I hear only hallelujahs,

witnessing winged ones lark.


Surely as the condor soars,

I will transform;

to carry me home.

A little background on this month's poem: My husband and I spent the better part of November in Chile (Santiago, Patagonia, and back to Santiago). Our first week there, we decided to hike up Cerro Renca (see photos). With my lungs burning (thanks, Asthma), limbs shaking (thanks, Fibromyalgia), and Herculean patience on the part of my brother-in-law (who can do the entire thing in a ten-minute run on his own), we reached the top in well over an hour. While I was catching my breath and trying to enjoy the moment (without thinking about having to get back down the hill) I noticed hundreds of small white butterflies and thousands of ladybugs - the latter of which were landing on us in droves. I was reminded of that scene from The Lord of The Rings where Gandalf whispers a spell over a moth and turns it into an eagle so that he can escape from Saruman’s captivity. I found myself wishing that I could do the same. That's when we noticed a small group of individuals about halfway up, holding hands and speaking in tongues. If you want to know more on any specific lines in the following poem, ask away. I know some folks like their poetry with a bit of intrigue or mystery so that's all I'll share for now.