We stand, boot shod, dampened
By mists, winds chilling our faces,
The climb to come is held
In a cloud of the unknown,
Both softened and stretched
In our imagination.
The height of ambition
Is of no matter. Only the direction
And certainty of the next footstep
Through mud; sheep droppings
As our pathway, streams of water as our road.
The ribbon path rises
Enforcing solitude through its narrow
Minded singleness of purpose
And view. It is not the climb
That wearies, but the valley’s changeless
Tones cushioned in cloud.
The land opens up, marsh
Not green and not brown, platform to no view
Save a real climb into shadow
In a dank coat of not-grey.
The strain is a relief, the effort
An assurance of progress.
Until we arrive, not
At the summit whose cairn, cold and befogged
Is dwarfed by the lower
Monument that stands erect
Over the valley, given a new
Presence by the mystery of life’s passing.
Later the memorial
Points us away from the shroud
To emerging green hues, sun shadows,
And at the mountain foot
Vivid oranges and yellows, Autumn
Beauty still in the tomb’s sightline.