The second peak

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October 2020


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.


mountainsLake Districtcovid-19hill walking

◄ England, low tide



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Tim Ellis

Thu 21st Oct 2021 10:37

Thanks MC and Stephen. The poem is an allegory on the Covid crisis in the UK which I wrote a year ago after a weekend hillwalking in the Lake District. Several poetry competition judges this year failed to spot that it’s allegorical so I thought I’d make it public now, especially since we seem to be in exactly the same position we were a year ago: cases on the rise again and the government just ignoring it and refusing to take the necessary action to prevent a third peak this winter (or is is 4th or 5th? I’m losing count!)

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Stephen Gospage

Wed 20th Oct 2021 16:58

Glad you're back safe and sound, Tim. A wonderful poem. Thanks.

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M.C. Newberry

Wed 20th Oct 2021 14:46

The challenge of the hills well caught in these lines. I recall
something similar to the content in the last line on one occasion...
not a comfortable feeling!!

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