Poem Map of Scotland: poem no. 348

Traversing The Horns Of Torridon

Given the gravity of the situation,
pausing before walking along
this ledge above a precipice
would have made sense.

Rest for a moment;
realise that, once started,
it’s already too late
to retrace steps.

Falling is more than possible
given our propensity
to become inattentive
when facing risk;

accept that one stumble
is one too many and task
feet to diligently follow
patterns just finished,

mask the consequences
of losing concentration;
one true step on the
one true path,

balancing threats
of disaster
with expectations
of success.

Another instant
and the next spent
straight as a die,
soon we’ll be smiling

at the view waiting
to charm us on
the farther side
of this chasm

between hope and regret,
overlooking how it felt
a lifetime was spent
holding your breath

along this barely-etched
contour line
before reaching
momentary calm.

“We shouldn’t be here,”
is the thought to avoid
while negotiating
emptiness.

For the present, continue
deliberate and slow,

one true moment
and the next.

Calmly marching
with the sky
above us.
And below.

Jeffrey Kemp

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