by Louise McStravick

North of the border smells like damp jackets and
we are at the mercy of a dice roll, Loki’s fancy.
The wind slashes through clothes,
mocks us for trying, like a punch to the lungs
reminds us of our place,
hits the back of the throat, clears it of soot,
voices as crystalline as the truth of it
breath at 26,000 steps.

The day smiles edge to edge
rainbow wide at our inexperience,
‘this is no place for Google maps,’
shows us a sunny spell,
there is no space for complacence.

Pines the only traffic
hold our hands on the descent,
how something so tall can remain present
as the wind bullies is nature’s truth.
Silence punctuated by creaks, their only protest.
We join in, we understand.

Strangers smile as they pass, sing sentences
as if we exist, which would be weird if we weren’t lost and
in need of guidance,
‘go through the gate near the church spire’.
Even dogs say hello with paws that muddy
a straight out of Hackney fur coat.
We become part of something.

Their voices are music, old as the hills,
warm as a hug of Cullen Skink after a Highland walk,
a welcoming chorus,
‘come back again aye, but not in that coat.’

Louise McStravick | @hyperbolou | @louloudoodoo
Louise is a writer, teacher, and proud Brummie. She has featured at events in London, Birmingham and Amsterdam including London Literature Festival, Beans Rhymes & life and Streetfest as well as reading her poetry on BBC Berkshire.  She has been published both on and offline and her debut chapbook is due to be released in July 2020 with Fly on the Wall Press.

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