Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 39: Ben Nevis

The Ben on a Summer Solstice

Coy, lush meadow land
With purpled yellow flanks
lulling me upwards

Warmth from the day
perfumed and humid
sheening my skin

Tonight the moon
iridescent and close
will be my prize

Against obsidian skies
a mirrored pearl
will light my way

Over giants footsteps
I haul and scramble
damp stone ledges

With prayers for deliverance
Lochan an t-Suidhe gives me sanctuary
to contemplate the basalt heights

But you are Nibheis
the malicious one, the venomous one
your snaking path - deceptive and deceitful

You call the Gods of Wind and Snow
the storm carpets and roofs me
I am swallowed by the beast

No beacon light points home, no prize,
just the price paid for hubris.
Chastened and bruised and wiser,
steps heavy with sleep
I leave the mountain.

Jacqueline Leck

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