2001: A Place Odyssey (Torres del Paine National Park, Chile)

Unrelenting Patagonian gusts blasted miniscule dust-daggers into my eyes. A dozen more steps to reach the pass. 

Before our two-year odyssey began, my partner and I agreed to exchange vows once we encountered a place that inspired simultaneous, impromptu awe. Our first trek required two days to ascend the first of many Andean passes. Verdant valleys morphed to beech forests; icy rivers zigzagged across desolate scree slopes. As a backpacker, I treasured the final approach to a mountain pass, tingling skin anticipating the mysterious other side with electric lust.

At the pass I closed my eyes and savored the moment before the revelation. Despite fierce gales, I shaded my brow and squinted just enough to behold the mystery unfurled. 

Sun cleaved the slate sky and illuminated an astonishing expanse of a silver-white ice field extending to the horizon. The glittering ancient ice mass before us fed into an opaque, turquoise lake. We breathed and absorbed the glacial landscape, wonderstruck. 

With dust-coated lips, we declared ourselves beloveds and eloped.

They called us selfish; family and friends demanded a communal celebration. My grandmother relayed her response from another hemisphere: “You won’t get away with this. When exactly is the wedding? Nu?”

Rachel Prizant Kotok, addicted to constrained writing, writes letter-sequenced palindromic poetry, microfiction, flash, and short fiction. She was a finalist for Southwest Review’s Morton Marr Poetry Prize and the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Award for Poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tiferet Journal, Digital Paper, The Centifictionist, Hey, I’m Alive, and Wend Poetry. She teaches human rights-themed academic and creative writing in Northern California.

You can see more of her work in 8.3 and 8.3