On the Edge

I wrote this poem a few years ago on the day my cousin Chris O’Grady died. I was out walking around Blackstone Edge above Rochdale and the poem almost wrote itself when I got home.

It’s wild up here, properly wild,
Surrounded by earth, rocks and sky,
Windy, always, even on the stillest days,
Rocks carved, smoothed by the elements,
But touch them with an un-gloved hand,
They’re sharp, rough; they’ll tear your skin,

An unforgiving piece of wilderness,
Not nature as a soft and comfy friend,
But powerful, strong and hard as nails,
Small loose stones that twist unwary ankles,
And should you fall the grit-stone rocks,
Will bruise your body, break your bones,

Here nature forms a wild frontier,
A watershed of life and death,
You’ll find your soul in a place like this,
I’m here today, seeking peace and inspiration
But memories, emotions flood my mind,
And I share them with nature, my old trusted friend,

Almost fourty years ago,
With my cherished childhood friend,
I played in rocky fields,
Ancient warriors roaming where they choose,
Raced across wide open places,
Prospectors seeking Klondike gold,

Built shelter of sticks and fronds,
Desert nomads hiding from the searing sun,
Watched our ships of twigs and leaves,
Rafts braving the wild Orinoco’s falls,
Hunted frogs among the rushes,
Pharaohs stalking crocodile beside the Nile,

Searching out eggs,
In the depths of King Solomon’s mines,
Jumping out from the ditches,
“Your money or your life!”,
“All for one and one for all”,
Culmore’s own small band of Musketeers,
Standing high on the wall,
Hilary and Tensing on top of the world,

Early today she died ….. we knew she would,
If not today then someday soon,
We all knew it was ….. “for the best”,
That’s what we like to say,

Emotions and body sheltered in our home, I heard the sad news,
We’re all grown up now, so I mustn’t cry,
Stood here on the moors, with my old trusted friend,
Like nature’s child, my heart unfettered, my mind runs free,
I mourn her loss, question, curse and finally I weep,
My dear cousin, my childhood friend, left our world today,

But for an hour this afternoon, Chris O’Grady is here with me,
Running and playing, hiding behind the ditches,
Hair blowing in the wind, around that freckled smile,
Here we stand, as we always will,
Facing West, on the Edge, drinking in the essence of life,
Its wild up here, properly wild