Cocksure we ploughed ahead after midnight,
regretting it when the sweat chilled.
Then hours of lockstep with you, just you.
Thighs vibrated beyond the tree line.
Summitting, we met nine Telcom towers—
bastions of this state-in-the-making.
Light clusters below meant the cities of Panamá and David;
in expansive cloud forest, quetzals slept.
We rubbed limbs by an illicit fire.
This sufficed until dawn’s summoning:
a sea on each horizon.
Caribbean stratus rippled over lesser hills.
You enveloped me and exhaled Pacific.
Clarifying the apex, a wooden cross,
monkeyed on by some man in a North Face.
A gringa scratched in her baja sweater.
If climb-wisdom were a particular truth
scrawled at the peak of a nation,
I—having become “José Luis”—and you—“Anel Zuaso”—