The Resilient Mountains
Snow Leopards & Mountain Communities

Artwork & Poetry Contest

POETRY FINALISTS

Where the Strongest People Live

by Anne Curtis

Plates collide
The earth quakes; glittering peaks jut up
Snow and blue, blue ice
Melting and freezing
Form canyons and deep valleys
Resilient people carve mantras on the canyon walls
And make the valleys home
Rivers carry rock and silt
Down to the plains below
The mountains rise higher
The rocks around them crumble
Mountains come and go.

A gray ghost is silent
Her coat spinning smoke rings
Woven on her tail
She gazes at the bharal
Long tail swishing silently
The bharal flees across a cliff face
Snow leopard follows, tail balancing
Across the steep cliff and down the talus slope
She slows, the bharal escapes
Eyes glinting in the light
She settles in a sunny spot
Not quite hungry.

A man watches his herd of yaks
Tear at clumpy grass
On a boulder strewn hillside
It’s summer and the air is chill
Skeptical at first, but quick to adapt
Respecting the cat, revering her yet
Communities adopting technology
Darkness falls and the ghost is there
She glides through the night toward the yaks
Scared by a Foxlight she moves on
Climbing effortlessly
Back toward the bharal.

And the plates collide
Glaciered mountains rise
Cracking ice sends boulders down
Glaciers gouge valleys from the mountains
Sparkling blue lakes
And valleys of flowers
Give way to the harshest of winters
Where the strongest people live
Guardians of the ecosystem
Where the snow leopard dwells
Her future secured
By the people of the mountains.

Pairing

Poem & Watercolor pencil & ink drawing

Elements judged both as a pair & independently

The Old One

by Charith Pelpola

In Memoriam

For the last time, the old one came down from the mountain.

He retraced his steps, following trails worn by countless years of use; familiar footfalls now lost to the passage of time.

Like all of his kind, his life had been shaped by the instinctive drive for survival. And he carried his scars with pride.

Some of his kin had fallen, but others had thrived. And now he stood, at the edge of the precipice – the last of his generation.

If he had cared to stop and think awhile, he might have looked upon his life as a success. But he did not dwell on such things.

Instead, he fixed his gaze across the valley that stretched out before him. Across the ravine he spied a herd of wild sheep, fleet of foot and almost dancing across the rubble fields.

For a split second the hunter in him stirred, muscles tensed in anticipation. But the urge passed, for he felt his great age – and now the comfort of a sheltering cave and dry sedge appealed to him far more than the call of the chase.

Still, he hoped that his progeny, now spread far and wide across the country below, might take up the hunt in his stead.

An icy breeze caressed the peak, and he felt its chill in his bones. As he turned to retrace his steps back up the mountain, the old one stopped for a minute to watch his breath steam rhythmically in the air before him.

At last he began to clamber with purpose, choosing his steps wisely. It was a painful ascent and he snarled now and then as his feet snagged on sharp-edged fragments of rock. But he took some comfort in the knowledge that this would be his final climb.

And so the old soul turned his back upon the world. He climbed high.

As the mists rolled in and cast a thick shroud upon the peak, his figure gradually became indistinct, losing form and consistency.

Finally, he disappeared completely, and no mortal eye could make out his departure…
The Old One and the Mountain were now one.

Beacon

by Daniel Burton

Come one, come all.
Brothers, sisters,
Mothers, fathers,
Sons and daughters,
Let us now join hands together.
In this era of seismic shifts,
Our beacon of faith still stands strong –
A spark of hope burns in her eyes.

She watches us
And protects us,
Hidden from view
Yet she is here
In the whispering of the wind.
The Goddess of the Mountainside –
She who survives adversity
Shall be our light in the darkness.

Through the years
And centuries
Of seasons’ change,
She shows the way
To a peaceful utopia
Where we may all gather and learn
Her secret, mysterious ways
So we may reinforce our souls.

Brothers, sisters,
Mothers, fathers,
Sons and daughters
Now we rejoice.
We have a long path ahead of us
And countless mountains to be scaled.
But the Snow Leopard will guide us.
Do not fear, for we are all one.

We Still Stand

by Daniel Burton

Change arrives swiftly, like a mountain gust.
In just a heartbeat
Whatever is known shall become unknown,
Yet hope still remains.

In this perilous era of panic,
Let’s lift our heads up
And recall how we have survived before.
As one, we still stand.

Under the Snow Leopard’s protective gaze,
We will all still stand.
Guided in adversity, turning tides,
Together, we still stand.

Each soul shall unite as they always have
And raise our hands high
To the Mountain Queen – she who always sees.
She who inspires us.

Though she dwells hidden in the mountain fog,
We stand side by side
To face each wave with honour and courage –
Man and noble beast.

The Snow Queen

by Martin Forey

Jewel of the Himalayas
What price a mottled ounce
Rosetted ash and ivory
Spring coiled tight to pounce

Mythical mountain monarch
From lofty balcony she waits
Regally surveying her court
Of blanket snow and cragged slate

Surefooted snow-shoed stalker
Silent solitary days she roams
Across her treacherous territory
Of wintery speckled monochrome

Ibex, Markhor and blue sheep
Beware the clack of careless hoof
For peril awaits a single leap
Atop the tiles of Asia’s roof

Expect her not to abdicate
More place than any has she there
For never more to wild estate
Did claim such sole and rightful heir.

Filming In the Hindu Kush

by Emma Lee

She’s not a morning person,
much shaking and stretching
on her precarious haunt,
before she’ll stalk and make
a scent-disguising roll
in Himalayan dust and snow.

Villagers want rid, blaming her
for attacks on domestic animals.

Ironic my large carbon footprint
– the flight here, the four-wheel drives
used to cart equipment up –
might save an endangered animal,
who eschews domestic goats.

Villagers watch via a laptop.
Smiles need no translation.

Each sighting of her creamy-silver
fur, long balancing tail, and I struggle
for breath. I’m not worth eating
so my affection’s unrequited.

Villagers comment,
“She’s my friend now.”

When the Mountain Ghost Is Named

by Emma Lee

In a den on a mountain a ghost cub is born.

Villagers blame ghosts for losses, set traps
to protect livestock and hope mining jobs mean
security. But other herders lose pastures
and learn mining is not a gold seam.

Now adult, she has her first litter.

Villagers strengthen their corrals, take sheep’s wool,
formerly waste, to make rugs and needlefelt goods.
They set up a social enterprise and sell
handicrafts to supplement income from herds.

Two years later, a second litter, setting a pattern.

The villagers dismantle their traps.
Dagina becomes the oldest ghost mother,
the first snow leopard who may
see all her cubs survive her.

Resiliency Rises

by Becky Norman

Resiliency rises from the dust of despair,
Its empty, aching belly and deep cold bones
Demanding: Move forward. Don’t stop.
Heart, keep beating.

Survival teaches us these things.
First, food in your belly and air in your lungs.
Second, shelter from the storms and a thick coat to protect you.
The immediate comes first, the foundation in the hierarchy of needs.

Survival also teaches us these things.
Be willing to change, grow, adapt.
Work with your world – not against it.
Resistance will break you.

It won’t always be sunshine and meadows of wildflowers.
There is no illumination there.
Resiliency rises from the dust of despair,
And is watered with hope.

I There In Kathmandu

by Gerson A. Gastaldi

I contemplated there in Kathmandu
the mighty Himalayan chessboard,
when I saw there on his naked throne,
the real snow leopard, in ambush.
It was an impulse of brief reflection
that I evoked the fascination of this beast,
lying on Everest as a golden guardian,
your panther domain!

I shouted there: “Oh peak of exuberance!
I want now to come back like the bird
at the zenith and rise in your opulence
like the snow leopard, barbarian;
your great stature I long to climb;
look at the valley of your throne of whiteness,
even if you don’t hear me i want to fly
about you in a wild adventure!”

There on the point of the mountain, I could hear him
bluff of my boasting and smiling
at my pathetic plan to tame him
what nonsense, if I arise:
“I’m not as high as you think!
See the stars of heaven in the sacred
mantle of dimension, so suspended
to sparkle in the framed firmament!

I wish it were compared to the stars
glittering in the sumptuous world
of the constellations, radiating ballasts
of light to give us a deep joy?
And there in Kathmandu, I saw in the starry
sky the diaphanous light shines on the bare peak,
and about a winged and silver horse,
behold, the brave leopard appeared.

From above, he looked at me voraciously,
and in a flash, your beautiful figure I saw
streaking clouds in infinity,
whose phrases in the ether he uttered to me:
“The highest mountains on earth
know how far they are from the stars
from the sky; being humble in this sphere,
equal to the tiniest candle lumens!”

“Before the magnitude of the universe exists
the sublime face of perennial wisdom,
whose sovereign order of light consists
in the grace of the Cosmos and its harmony!
The mainstay of submission is a virtue,
like a sun that radiates all truth,
never would a star bring such fullness
if it didn’t show its luminosity!”

Pairing

Poem & Digital drawing

Elements judged both as a pair & independently

Spirit of the Mountains

by Anna Carrino

Only A Mirage

by Sandra McEwen

Haiku For A Snow Leopard

by Silvia Schmidt

Snow leopard.
Solitary, silent feline.
Toughest of the lot,
yet so elusive, beautifully mysterious,
almost ethereal as
it disappears through high mists,
leaving no trace.

Paw prints vanishing,
with snow gently blanketing.
This cat, gone like a wisp,
never even there,
a mirage of icy realms.

Icy wind over the snow

In spotted fur the hunter

A short beat of wings

Haiku For A Snow Leopard

by Silvia Schmidt

Icy wind over the snow

In spotted fur the hunter

A short beat of wings

Artwork Finalists