The Old Hills Say

even lying like that,
prone on a rope charpoy,
under the poker faced sky,
that flared above the cursive green of the
slumbering Nilgiri hills,
she thought
he seemed like a hawk,
slipping through the octaves of the sun,
the infinite converging into a secret song
he carried on his blood-stained lips;

at dawn they had followed an uphill trail,
through the frowning jungle,
when they saw the elephant in a clearing,
the canopy striping gold on his magnificent tusks;
they seemed to have a moment,
negotiating in a strange language without syllables,
until the animal waved his trunk in disdain
and disappeared into the trees;

but we’re stardust after all,
she told him,
with wordless memories of our first home,
finding our own little Everest to climb,
so we can be worthy of the journey,
so we will have an answer for the earth
when she presses her ear close
to our untethered hearts;
I have to go,
because it’s there,
because it waits,
because every moment I hear it scream my name;

he turned to watch her face,
as if he lifted a wing and blocked the sun,
circling slowly in the new shadows;
go if you must, he offered,
gather your gear in the folds of your heart
and ascend to your goal,
his smile hovered in the heat,
these hills are wise, you know,
I’ve heard them say,
don’t climb too high,
for you may pluck coloured stars
to weave into your hair,
and walk in the gardens of the moon
where she is neither dark nor bright,
but meanwhile
the cloud on which you built your castle
might float away
silently
beneath your feet;

she could see the sky wrinkle
its azure forehead,
the old hills shrugged and
rolled their eyes,
somewhere a pachyderm chortled,
as the air exhaled,
pulling back its shoulders,
making way for the swoop
of a prescient bird,
homing in on its unsuspecting prey.

“Because it’s there” – George Mallory
For Poets United where the midweek prompt is “Mountain”.
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54 thoughts on “The Old Hills Say

  1. but we’re stardust after all,
    she told him,
    with wordless memories of our first home,
    finding our own little Everest to climb,
    so we can be worthy of the journey,

    Such glorious sentiments!
    Beautifully put 🙂

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  2. “Finding our own little Everest to climb” — I like the idea that we each have to find a way to be worthy of the journey..and also that the cloud under our feet might float away. The journey definitely can be a perilous one, but also so very rewarding along the way!

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  3. So much magic realism in this poem – and loved the end quote..it’s very hard to pick a favourite image but i think ‘slipping through the octaves of the sun’ is absolutely divine

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  4. “he seemed like a hawk,
    slipping through the octaves of the sun,
    the infinite converging into a secret song
    he carried . . . ”

    Wow! With this one, you have touched the stars and more! For me this touches beyond Icarus to Jesus and all that lies below “The Windhover” in the crazy beauty of giving all we have even if it breaks us. Is it foolish? I cannot think so. Though I’ve lived so timidly I need daring and being a force of nature to be possible. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you Susan. Appreciate your comment and yes.. even if we’ve never experienced certain things, it does matter that they are possible … even if slightly out of reach.

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  5. What an absolutely gorgeous tale this is……..your imagery is absolutely wonderful – too many glorious ones to quote, the hills rolling their eyes, he, like a hawk “slipping through the octaves of the sun”, the “gardens of the moon” and the castle slipping away….sigh. A truly beautiful poem. Such a pleasure to read.

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  6. How much you have put into this glorious poem to delight all your readers. Once in a while I read a piece such as this and say “I wish I had written this as it is so beautiful.”

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  7. This has an underlying meaning for me though I can’t put a finger on it quite yet but loved the outer story between a traveler and a flying companion giving her advice. You are a gifted writer. Good job!

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  8. Gorgeous piece! Suddenly the amazing green valley and blue peaks of the Nilgiri rose in front of eyes…Jae. I must break away and run into those hills now. Thanks for the treat!

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  9. Lots and lots of imagery here. ”

    she could see the sky wrinkle
    its azure forehead,
    the old hills shrugged and
    rolled their eyes,

    I really dig that. Great story! Thanks

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  10. He reminded you of a hawk…that captured me and reminded me of a lover who reminded me of a black Japanese dragon. the first three lines of this poem captured me and continued to draw me to the close. Wonderful imagery, personification. Great, great poem

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  11. Yes, this does bring me to the jungle. To a place I’ve been, but can’t quite place. I think it’s mainly that elephant. I can see this. The big beast, so welcoming, but alone. Nice… thanks for this memory.

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  12. This is so full of sharp description and metaphor. I especially like:

    he seemed like a hawk,
    slipping through the octaves of the sun,
    the infinite converging into a secret song
    he carried on his blood-stained lips;

    It was hard to stop there, though, in choosing a favorite.

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