I got up at One again, and determined to do something.
I’d go to Cadr Idris, and make it to the summit.
I put a black bag in the plastic rucksac,
Got the old Army water bottle, sterilised it,
And filled it with water,
Old gaiters, and some cheap boots from Lidl,
Waterproof trousers, a hat and gloves. It was raining outside.
I said goodbye to the cat and went to the car.
I suffered no delays on the way by road.
Queues were forming on the other side, but not my way.
At the car park under the mountain it was raining;
There was mist up there. I put on the gear and started walking fast.
It was half past three, and it might be dark by the time I came down.
I struggled getting to the ridge where we stopped last time.
I walked as fast as I could, hurting.
I was thinking about what I would tell you about my walk.
I stopped at the big stone with the crack in it, for shelter,
And lit a cigarette. My boots had water in them, the Northern Ireland gloves
Were not working either, nor the waterproofs.
The rain was by this time horizontal, and I had my hood up.
At the ridge where we stopped last time, I carried on
Over the stile, going on into the mist like someone who tramples on cherished things.
The wind was blowing back the other way, pushing me around.
It was one step back for every two forward.
I didn’t know where I was going from now on, and the mist was thick.
After a while, walking slowly across the backbone of the hill,
I wasn’t thinking about what I would say about this adventure,
Or whether I would finish it, but rather,
As the stones began to litter the ground
And the rain to saturate me,
While looking through the little slit of the hood, I was thinking:
Why am I doing this? I didn’t know where I was going.
The car park had been empty down there; no one else
Was on the mountain, no one at all.
My children’s voices
Were not heard in my ears. My household affairs
The intractable troubles of love
Were in me, but I was indifferent, being punished by the water and the wind.
Pissed wet through, and pushed about, unable to see,
Walking toward nothing, or nowhere I knew
I was doing it to because I am angry
That I don’t hear them, and that my household is empty.
And I liked the fact
That there was no one there on the mountain,
No one at all, nor birds, nor beasts, just grass, rain, and shards of stone.
And that is what is best in life.
I kept on. I came to another ridgeline. I was horrified
By the deep chasm before me, and blown about so badly,
I retreated away from it. Behind me was the shape of a primitive shelter
Which for a short time I considered to be the summit.
I took some photos of myself and the horizontal rain from behind the walls
Then, unsure if this was the top, I chose to carry on walking, regardless.
After a while, the track, hedged in by mist, revealed a horizon yet higher still.
I had to keep on, to the top of this place. Some of the hazy shapes
Were sharp jagged obscenely steep crests, and I dreaded going onward.
There came a point, walking between some shelter, that the sides of the track fell away,
So I stepped onto a part of the track where wind came blasting from below on one side
And threw itself, with rain and the cloud, down the other side,
And the wind started pushing me toward the edge of the chasm.
I knelt down, and decided to carry on hunched, down low.
I made it to another crevice on the other side of that undefended open space.
The stones, running like everything else, with water
And, at some point, I decided that I was afraid.
The hideous peaks in front of me were too far away, and the fall to the side
Was too close; I am afraid of heights. It
Made me think that I was going to die here.
I gripped the stones and lay down on another rock, holding it firmly
And wondered who had made these crazy shapes ahead of me
Like the teeth of some horrific skeleton of a dragon
Or the sharp spikes on which people could be hung and impaled in hell.
Whose idea was it to make this the place of my destruction,
Alone, angry, surrounded by winds which screamed
Mists which flocked around, dripping.
Vertigo came on, and I was afraid.
The rock on which I laid my breast brought to mind
That saint who beat his breast with a rock to make it repent and break.
The rock I lay on was breaking my heart, and I wanted it to break me
In preparation for the judgement of God
For he had brought me here, to smash me.
My heart and the shreds of life it is attached to
And my aggressive self, were broken
In repentance, so that there would be a way into my heart for the one who was going
To assess then reject me and throw me down the side of the mountain,
Leaving me alone in a heap at the bottom.
I let the stone break my heart.
But not to be defeated by a hill, I went on, I would see the summit.
On hands and knees, or holding the sides of a deep ravine, I saw
More deformed rock shapes
Emerge from the mists for me to meet on all fours.
And finally, a crafted monolith was standing above in the cloud,
Which meant the end of the way.
I crawled up, afraid of losing my body down the side of the hill,
And touched the thing with the tips of outstretched fingers.
Then deciding this was shameful, I stood alongside it, a concrete slab
With a crack showing a reinforcing bar.
I saw then, on the other side, and down below,
A sort of shelter, with a roof.
Inside the shelter there was no one; I ate a piece of bread,
Smoked, went for a piss (which flew back on my face),
Then, wondered if I should stay the night. I wanted to stay.
It was empty and warm; at the summit of Cadr Idris,
Those who stay the night come back, either a poet, or mad.
It passed through my mind to stay, but also
That I may not survive the night.
I crossed myself, claimed this place for Orthodoxy, and left.
The wind was gentler as I started on the way down, the rain light.
Stepping here and there across the skeletal remains,
I considered the happiness of just staying up here, in that hut,
To evaporate into the world, to be washed away by it,
To disappear, leaving nothing. A poet is a nationalist thing
Making his language, his home, and his people,
Or else he is no poet.
‘Beautiful Cadr Idris, my home’, I said.
I had no time to reflect because,
Whether by coincidence, or by something else,
Light dilated itself on the track in front of me,
I looked up, and
The sun showed its circular body behind the mist and cloud.
The rain stopped, the winds stopped screaming around my head.
I carried on going to the bottom, completely alone.
The drive home was along empty roads,
Without any incident, as it might be in a dream.
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