Winterfold (alternative perspective) 

For Lara, Mark and Ivan

Three figures emerge
Following the course of a stream
Hemmed by banks of winter grass
Over beds of acid green moss
And the cooling sparks of tiny flowers

Climbing one a vallei
The second a cleugh
The third not even thinking
Onto a treeless plateau dotted with grouse
Where hares flicker
Deer career
And frogs dissemble

The mountain watches
Holds them close
Enfolds them in a blizzard
Beguiles them
And guides them
By compass and contour
And glimpses
Of her sisters and rivals
Between breaks in the cloud

These are hers
For now
To be drawn on and deceived
Encouraged and received
With grace

Step on step on steeper step
She counts their breaths
Marks the arc of their approach
As it tingles up her flank
Sharpening in proximity to her summit

Each footfall a fraction heavier
A line scored harder by altitude

Until
On top
She sees them clearly
Squeezes them

And lets them go

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