Competition Runners-Up Story

Climbing Kinder

by Robyn Curtis

I head for the gravestone edge

grit-faced, looming

over broad-shouldered hills that hug

the sling of the valley below.


past a carcass washed-boned,

 a whorl of sheep's wool on wire

past incipient bilberry, pink and raw


I strike out for base-rock; I want to lie

on autumn-warm slabs

before the purple heather darkens

with slick rivulets

of peat-brown age

and crows pick over my white bones;


a corkscrew thorn drills the earth

a handhold, a crook for a pilgrim

climbing into the sky.


And when at last I lie, pressed

against sun-kindled granite,

I will know

I have been something after all -

one who can keep the darkness warm

and still ride the lark's phrases.