The second peak
Once we’d bagged the first we should’ve quit
but we are so elated
to make it safely down by noon
we press on like a perfect pair of twits,
sights set on a much-alike, elevated
cairn across the valley, reckoning soon
we’ll add another summit to our list.
We scale a gate which warns us to KEEP OUT!
and brave a barbed wire fence
before the grade gains magnitude.
We slip on scree; vague sheep-tracks maze about
and conquest ever rests a steep slog hence.
The point it levels off, our thrill’s subdued -
the peak’s which pile of rocks? We’re racked with doubt.
Autumn stains the fells and several crows
bespot some rusting larches
clumped upon the lakeward face.
A monstrous buzzard rises up and rows
beyond a speck. We peer into the arches
of a hollowed sheep, green gut-wool splayed
through ruptured ribs, still smiling in its throes.
Two thousand foot below, the glinting town’s
enticingly bedecked in
autumn sunlight but the grim
mesh of larch trees, menacingly brown,
obstructs the plunging slope in that direction.
Sawtooth needles line their thwarting limbs
and we can’t find a path to get back down.