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Published: 28 Feb 2023

Wild Moment: Michael James Parker

"My poem explores my awe at one of my most astonishing days in the mountains." Enjoy this cracking account of tackling the Ring of Steall in midwinter.

Michael James Parker - ring of Steall

Ring of Steall 

Minus thirteen in Glen Nevis. A good start. My expectations 
as hard and sparkling as the frost. Amazement of breath.
I want my crampons on for the walk in: Narrow path, glazed rock, big drop.
Clink and crunch to the three-wire bridge. The Water of Nevis a silent block.

We cross. And I slip South into hours of space; silence; stillness; delight. 
immaculate white laid out beneath untouchable blue; I feel the press, 
compacting, holding; eyes make no sense as I focus on breathing, breathing deeply 
air so cold and light and penetrating I could draw clear maps of my inside.

A corniced concerto of crystal reflection plays; comes miles North 
to crescendo. I step, and my stepping takes two steps, gravity happy 
to help; snow and slipping winter sunlight tell me throw 
myself down, sack and boots, body warmth and Alpine shell; I could sleep

I could sleep as I slip, I could tumble and all of this yielding could cluster, 
take mass, as crown and flank fail, slab, slide, the last of my dreams 
would be ancient ocean hardened to rock, sharp air, slice of stream, 
image of white whaleback. Something wakes. I hold my ice axe close.

(c) Michael James Parker

Snowy branches

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