September 2022

Back to Issue 12

The Road to Gliss

By Steph Amir

i.m. Ronald J. Friedman



  1. We do.


  1. His paintings lean against the skirting board.      I hold

one up: mountain ash forest along the road to      Gliss. My

aunt nods. As the snow melts three hours       away, I half

joke to my partner: I miss those trees so       much I’d name

our unborn child after them.      


  1. My sister and I try to fit       in one more run as the

sun slides beyond the ridge,        but ski patrol wave us off.

Home-time, girls. We nod and      shrug, swishing through

the gums back to the lodge. 


  1. We stand on ourtoes to grab      icicles from the roof,

eating them like icy-poles, warned of      falling snowdrifts

by our mother who used to grab icicles       from the same

gabled roof with her sister, receiving the       same warning. 


  1. At the dinner table, beneath      bright orange

light shades, my pudgy baby hands      grab my grandpa’s

moustache. He laughs, cheeks      red from the glare of

sunny snowfields; muscles      and mind abuzz as always.


  1. Kerosene lamps      are lit on arrival, briquettes set

burning. Woollen gloves      are hung to dry. The water pipes

are frozen and sleeping      bags have been chewed through

by rats, but there’s food      at least, if the crows don’t get

to it first.


  1. Come on, he says to      my mother, aged seven. She

peers over the edge of the      powder-covered almost-

cliff, watching her father      speed down the slope. After a

pause, she takes a deep      breath, and follows. 


  1. It’s summer.      Trees are cleared.Snakes slide into

sleeping bags. The      engineers build a lodge: triple bunks,

noses almost touching      the roof. They call it Gliss because

the word sounded cold      and, my grandpa says, it’s as

good a name as any. 


  1. The engineers have a solid      plan and some dubious

paperwork, with a permit with map      attached. The site is

on a ridge overlooking eucalypt forest,      rich green and

sparkling white towards the horizon. 


  1. From the city: a train and bus, then the      six-hour

ascent walking through night  and sleet, wooden      skis in

hand, leather boots crunching. Crashing, exhausted      onto

draughty floors. 


  1. A young engineer sees an article      about a new road

built to the fledgling village on the      top of Mount Buller.

Look at this, he says, holding up      the newspaper to some

friends at the factory. Let’s go.