Darkness punctuated by the streetlights of Hebden
The occasional Christmas tree shining from a shop window
7.00 on a Sunday morning,
in December,
in the Co-op carpark.

Our family arrives, hard hugs after a hard night.
Then this crew of six and a dog
Slowly, silently climb up the hill through the dark.

To the right, the rows of streetlights embroider the valley.
To the left, the shadows of the forest.
In front, the road ahead.
Footsteps scraping on stone,
The scamper of the dog
running back and forth.

Bird song drifts across the valley,
as a distant owl rallies against the dawn still to come.

Our breaths hot, we climb, bodies warming up,
we shed layers nearing the top.

We turn from the road into the woods, eyes accustomed to the dark,
footsteps squelching through mud.
Our thoughts in the past, the moment, enveloped in the trees.

As we clear the woods, a sliver of moon points to the east,
Night and day in balance,
we scramble through the stile into the field, slipping on the wet grass.

Laughter breaks the silence, that is not silent.
We climb, slow and steady, like the dawn about to break

To Seren’s tree.

We sit, still on the hill

Feeling our bodies on the cold rock
Our feet planted on the Earth
Eyes closed
Caroline’s voice guides us…
The smell of curious sheep
The call of the cockerel
The wind whipping around our cheeks
Thinking about how small we are on this planet
Spinning around the sun stopped still
The sun we are about to greet

As we sit, still on the hill

Our eyes open,
the light on the horizon shimmers silver against the trees.

A murder of crows flies over
Their squawks shattering the solitude,
Welcoming the sun,
On this winter solstice.

As we sit, still on the hill

Liz reads,
‘When you go out of here, all the particles that make you up will loosen and float apart….If you’ve seen people dying, you know what that looks like…..All the atoms that were them, they’ve gone into the air and the wind and the trees and the earth and all the living things. They’ll never vanish. They’re just part of everything. And that’s exactly what’ll happen to you…. You’ll drift apart, it’s true, but you’ll be out in the open, part of everything alive again.’

And in that moment, I can feel the truth in the words,
Salve for the sorrow.

We rise slowly from our rocks,
And begin our walk into the morning light,
Down the path into the dawn,
Past the crows perched in the branches of a tree,
they scatter like flying ashes from a fire
calling out our passage down the hill.

The darkness loosening its’ grip on the people

Who sat, still on the hill….