2011 OPEN COMPETITION
1st Prize: £250
'The Ice Storm' - Simon Jackson
We pass the church and climbers’ graveyard silently.
The mists thin to show dark peaks.
Stone walls and paths cut scars into the mountain’s hide.
At first, only the tips are touched,
grasses bedecked with glittering jewels.
We climb higher.
Every stem is a one-sided feather,
the edge serrated and sharp as a saw.
We are held in subaquatic silence,
Drowned by mist, colours submerged, sound muted.
The frosted ground, bone white,
the icy rocks glistening black,
a salt-print photo on a zinc plate,
a frozen image of an antique time.
The mountain’s side looms unexpectedly,
shadow dark and sheer.
A stain of disturbed scree
points arrow-like to the cliff’s roots.
We approach as swiftly as the terrain allows.
Head torches cut tunnels into thickening air.
The needle snow stabs into eyes.
When we reach him
the walker’s body is almost covered,
has become tumuli,
a smaller shape held in his arms.
They look like they’re sleeping.
Father and son, curled together,
broken leg splayed at an awkward angle.
An apostrophe; lives abbreviated by ice and wind.
The larger body lies wrapped round the smaller
in concentric snail shell curls.
The snow lies over them like a duvet.
We try to lift them. They are petrified.
Spittle, sweat, tears, blood,
the stuff of life turned to mountain stone.
For our ancestors Hell was always frozen;
only in more recent history, beneath the desert sun of Gehenna,
have we found Hell a conflagration.
We carry our burden to the village,
our hearts ruled by older gods.