Foinavon

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It stands entire against

all the rage of history.

The winds hurl across

the unresisting seas,

sweeping clear the barren peat lands,

then crash, bewildered into

this complacent monster.

Below, Arkle waits for a turn

in the limelight.

It listens to the hidden

disintegration of shale

as Foinavon succumbs,

where tempests cannot reach,

to the relentless patience of Time.

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Sutherland

The summer light casts its net

over the fading days

and time glides by, carried by winds

across bog peat and orchid.

The cuckoo’s pure notes float

for miles in silent pauses

as the world catches its breath.

The stop-start of man’s haste

down strips of road echoes

the ancient pattern of moor and rock –

flat unresisting planes colliding

with stubborn mountain blocks,

standing alone in a timescale

of geology and star.

I shrink with sheep and wheatear,

with midge and mistle thrush,

with thrift blooming on the cliff edge,

to the beat of a feather

against the Atlantic furies,

to the blink of an eye

against the spin of the earth’s core.

Allonby

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“It feels strange,” she said,

Seventy seven years having passed since this cold

Empty greyness was softened, given life,

By her childhood games.

 

What is strange about

Such vivid memory is the mystery

Of time slipping away, lives completed

Yet landscape unchanged.

 

It is fifty two

Years for me, though all my memories are shared

With the living, reinforced by telling

To those who were there.

 

It still feels strange though.

The landscape framing personal stories

That contour and colour an inward life

With no outward sign.

Transfiguration

He stood on the mountain top. At his feet

the world of the everyday was muted,

transformed into a pathos of colour.

Surely here was where heaven and earth must meet?

 

Skylarks singing the songs of the heavens;

Nature raw, eternal, a living past

unmarked by the trivial and worldly.

Surely here was where heaven and earth must meet?

 

Black-winged crows, ascetic, puritan, soar

around his head, lit by the evening sun,

animal piety cleansed in the wind.

Surely here was where heaven and earth must meet?

 

Convenient delusion. Here above

the cares of the day, he can imagine

an exaltation of a pure spirit.

He can box off the transfigured, safely

located in a mystical escape.

The past is transformed into dreams, blood free,

pure and mind locked. A life of engagement

with the poor and neglected can’t be seen

in dazzling lights of holy ecstasy.

 
Much better had he stepped into the slums

where the putrid waste of wealth sours the air,

and given transfiguration a place

in the midst of Want, Hunger and Despair

 

Something odd happened when I posted this so have put it on again!

 

Brecon Beacons in Winter

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It was January; water was stripping

The hills of anything

Loosely tied to the landscape, its leavings

Littering the valleys

Blocking the arteries.

 

Nothing expected; the westerly flow

Scouring still, driving hard,

Giving no quarter to less rigorous

Spirits seeking the warmth

Of quieter seasons.

 

 

Iced Winter firestorm; the bitterness fights

To chill the bones, to scrape

The fluid that ferments

Vigour in the limbs, struggling step by step

To the wild heights of cleansed

Rock, whipped clean, power showered.

 

 

Progress is twisted; shoulders turned to slice

Vicious punitive blasts,

Eyes lowered to escape

The crushing shadow of distant summits

Standing like dark chimneys

Industrial, ice flecked.

 

Snow strikes us like rice, hurled now in fury

Romance bleached, leached away

To polluted cities.

The summit was a shock, coming at us

From the mist, locked away 

With the chill whistling winds.

 

Well, the summer heat wave seems to have ended…….

Borrowdale

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A kind of darkness; leaf mould, mist

Dank and rich, water sluicing mud

Into pathways, staining walkers’ pants,

Capillary action dampening

The spirits of all who pass. The dark

Seeps into the hotels; the heavy

Mansions weighed down with the sweet comfort

Of the middle people – middle aged,

Middle class, Werther’s originals.

Yes, it was weight more than a darkness,

Not ominous, more heavy, dense,

Over rich, sugar saturated.

It required the openness, wind blown

Heights, rock faces of adventure, seen

Between the thick foliage below,

As if the drama of the mountains

Sprang out of the valley’s rich brocade.

For me, freedom comes on the bare rock ridge,

The barren fields of summit boulders,

Looking down on the coach bound trippers

Who cling to the deep hued luxury,

The chocolate filled lounges, the heart strewn

Gift shops and carefully staged viewpoints,

Who bask in the closeness of people

Whilst we nod, shy in our solitude.

The heavy stone and lush gardens may

Be to me like Christmas Day after

The turkey dinner with a blazing fire,

Paralysed in a fug of family,

But the summit ridge needs the valley,

Its colour, its promise of comfort.

Ardrossan

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It’s how the wind strikes the face.

like being lifted in a dancer’s arms

to the sound of a music

that is filled with memories and promise.

And there you were, face alight

silent laughter filling your body

with a bounce and a restless

kinetic urgency drawn from the waves.

You’re like a child, free at last

from the burden of a daily care

and allowed to run wildly

and to daub your paint on your canvas.

A setting out, froth and spray

a salt cleaning of all those mistakes

that have crushed and silted you,

weighed you down and turned your shoulders inward.

There ahead, blown towards us,

heralded by the cries of seagulls

find a climb to the wildness

of mountain ridges and simplicity.

It’s only now on this quay

that the struggle out of a darkness

of a misapprehension

can be seen in the glinting of your eyes.