Heinrich Harrer’s Motorbike

Muscular and beetle-black, it stalls
here in the Grindelwald museum,
town of a thousand afternoons,
forgetting each stitched mountain road.

From the horned handles down
it is a Nazi bike, or a hero bike,
depending on who looks. Black seat
with sweat worked into it.

At night, watched by the stone church,
it revs its own engine, lifts itself
back to the Eiger Nordwand,
Mordwand, where trains now pass,

and a dozen men died tunnelling.
It tries to launch itself,
up past the Swallow’s nest,
the Hinterstoisser traverse,

the Kleine Scheidegg window -
death’s best vantage point -
past Kurz’s ghost still hanging
on his rope, ten feet from rescuing.

Past the White Spider,
past the summit Harrer thought
he wanted. It does not stop.
It will go as high as it can.

It is a thought, put out of mind,
unspooling in the early hours,
filling the dawn. It lives
because you let it.


Helen Mort