Suicide Rates

November 4, 2013

In the graph, bands of color recede like mountain silhouettes drawn by a child...

In the graph, bands of color recede

like mountain silhouettes drawn by a child-

yellow foothills in the foreground for black women,

taller green slopes for their white sisters,

then a high red plateau littered with black men

who died on the climb. In the distance,

sharp blue peaks of white men tower over

the landscape, majestic as the Tetons at twilight,

summits rising as men age, thrusting

so high the page finally runs out of sky.

I have known people whose bodies litter

this landscape-grandfathers who turned off

their oxygen, overdosed women, a doctor

found in the forest with his shotgun.

And I have climbed these peaks,

know how tired hikers give up

when thirst gnaws and confusion grows

until clear streams look like blood,

and down feels no different from up.