Beyond Criffel : Peter Roberts

for Acky

I’m on the other side of Criffel now.

At Glencaple’s old tobacco quay,

the moonstruck river flows backwards,

a clock unwinding into memory.

The tide spools away from Criffel’s reel,

upstream, threading this other country,

where we climbed Clougha as child’s play,

became infected with longing

for the high fells across the bay.

Followed them north to Grasmoor,

from where Criffel, on a farther shore,

signalled where to go next.

I think of Liatach, running the scree,

our best, our final climb, the last day

it was all aligned, the hill,

you and me, our hill-made mind,

coming down fast in the sun’s last rays.

A fragile freedom, giving way

to a life that led, fifty years on,

beyond Criffel to this riverside,

looking back to those hills of youth

across time’s irreversible tide.