Out & about
CLIMB IN TORRIDON (Liathach, 1947)
Black, crumbling rock. Dead scree. The dolorous wind
that wails among the chimney-pots of hell.
Cloud smoking out of corries. Crooked teeth
set loosely in the wizened gums of Earth.
Slow-fingered shadows stroking furrowed hills.
Cold quartzite capped with diamonds by the sun.
The long ridge drooping perilously down
and down to dizzy dimness where a pool
catches the light among the piled grey
of crushing boulders dwarfed to grains of sand.
‘We’re climbing well today.
A team. No halts.
No lagging, sliding, fumbling for the map.
Only the click of nails on rock – the quickened breath.
The lift, the straining muscle and the sweat.
The hammering of the heart. The expectant eye
leaping ahead to pinnacles of light.’
(The self-important ant upon a wall …?
The giant who spans a chasm in a stride … ?)
A team … Yet each of us, within himself,
Alone, as man forever is
alone on mountains. Silent with his thoughts.
Sad as the echoes. Happy as the streams.
Uncertain as the mist. Steady as rock.
And free as all the wandering winds that blow
across the ruined rooftops of the world.