It's a fine day
we’re walking in the hills,
surrounded by beautiful tall trees
the light is bright but unfocussed
as though there was a fine mist across the sun
I tell you I will walk with you as far as I can
it’s a good day for walking
the trees are so stately and quiet
the air filled with their scent
you seem nervous so I say, “It’s OK,
I’m here at your side”
quietly we ascend, there seems no need to talk
it’s not steep but always upwards
and we grow breathless at times
and then, quite abruptly, the trees clear
and we are on the open hillside
I think it strange that I can’t see the sun
but down below the lands are clear enough
although so tiny
and there by the shining river is our house -
unimaginably small but still visible in every last detail
and the path continues upwards,
we’re nowhere near the summit
I notice that the light has stretched you thin somehow
and your features are oddly bleached, like an old photograph
and at that moment I know I can’t go any further,
so I turn and say
“Dad, I have to return now but you must go on”
you nod and we say goodbye,
I watch you for a few moments climbing higher and higher
now radiant.
Before I turn and walk back to the car
parked on the gravel
and make my way home

Michael Hannah