Ennui colours the sky with the blues. Yesterday’s clouds are gone away and in their place are ridges running up to spurs of mountain rock that when you trace your finger over the ridges the lines are so clean this optical illusion cuts to the bone. You watch, perspective screwed up, as your life blood drips down the bare rock mountainside, nourishing nothing because nothing can ever grow from nothing.
It is the survivor who lives to tell the tale, by by the skin of his teeth. Roped to the past, dangling into the future, he is hanging on there by a thread. He sees in the mountain his father and in his father himself. Though he does not yet see himself in the mountain, not until, that is, he has let enough blood on its ridge top blade to call it his own.
Time is a merciless master of us all. It takes the young and frail and makes them old and toughened. To the in-betweeners who kid themselves that the peak never will never end it makes their wait an anxious one. To the newly old it enfeebles them. These old ones, they dream perchance to sleep, caring not for piffling little things like argument’s sake. What might once have been them against the world is now them within it. Now they care not one iota, for they know that iota is merely another letter in a long alphabet. They have had to wait a lifetime to realise that what is for you will not ignore you. The world is old and knowing, almost as old and knowing as the old themselves. The two are a Celtic knot, their fates entwined.
Time is a unforgiving mistress. She bequeaths all the knowledge in the world then delights in humiliating when piece by piece she takes it back. First it’s a minor detail, but it doesn’t stop there. She starts taking back in chunks, chunks of time and place. She carves out Mount Rushmore only to start erasing the faces on it. First a nose, the parts that stick out. Then the face and with it the years it gave to governance. She schedules for remembrance, which only result in meetings of forgetful minds.
I saw in him the face of the mountain, the same but different. Piling up in pillowed lava were the lines under the eyes. Hollowed were the orbitals into a corrie with clear green water. The cheekbones, for so long concealed under layers unless a chuckle forced them up and out, now overhung like a cornice of ice streaked raspberry red. Shrunken with the seasons and tired of lying standing up, while still the mountain of old it was now eroding. I knew, upon seeing it, I had to gather my things and head closer to the mountain before it disappeared altogether. Instinct tells me there is life in the old dear yet. Old hills contain hard plugs and an igneous-hard will to live on, but for how many more seasons? Life’s a bitch and then you become senescent.
Sitting at distance regarding the range, I think of him growing old. Tracing a line along a ridge whetted by the bluestone sky, I let my blood on the mountain. A small sacrifice for those years of shelter, for that solid ground beneath my feet, for that quiet presence we always orientate back to. Seeing the scree glistening in the folds, the metal ore laid bare by the unremitting nature of the elements, noticing the things that age does to a man, feeling the brevity of all life in spite of his long years, I sense a stirring from deep inside telling me I am me only a few seasons shy of becoming him.