The Hill Runners (A New Poem)
The Hill Runners
Hill running is something you admire.
It’s in your blood, North Yorkshire’s
Moreish love of loneliness
How the heather heavy tragedy
Makes mountains sides romantic,
Peaks magnetic as a pole star’s pull.
I know you dream of them, those grim,
Uncomplicated, headlong men.
You can see heroic silhouettes –
Black dot specks on blue hillsides
Doing something brave and pointless
Through the night, mile after lonely mile.
You have felt the selfish thrill of an unshared sunrise,
Flushed with pride when you looked behind
To find not another human soul
Between you and the horizon
The valley’s green-gold blanket folds
Glinting in the hazel of your eyes.
You have form, of course, being born
In the shadow of Roseberry Topping
Where you walked the bare backed, spinal ridge
To Captain Cook’s monument to sit,
Your little mittened hand in hers,
High above the village where you lived.
I am not cut out for it, but still,
The hill runners have got inside my head.
I dream of you and them, bobbing up ahead,
Of me, slipping, falling, looking up to see
Your darkly spattered runner’s calves
Moving into the distance, away from me.