Dennis Kilgrin first appeared in my life when I was about twenty. He left me with a few forgettable ramblings and then he disappeared. Fifty years later, he appeared again in a storm on a mountain. “I’ve got much more to say now,” he said, asking me to follow him. This I have faithfully done, recording both his movement and musing.
“Dennis,” I said, “Kilgrin is a strange name. Is it in any way significant?”
“Not at all,” he said. “I just liked the sound. Actually, I made it up when I was about twenty.”
With that he strode rapidly towards the scree slopes and I struggled behind, notebook in hand.
In the Scree Slopes.
Lost and confused, smaller
than a floating fleck of dust
on the vast mountainside,
Kilgrin clambered over
the tangled grey scree slope.
In a little clearing fresh water
oozed through embroidered moss.
Worn, he stopped and rested.
First he saw only the challenge
of the grey rock under domed sky.
Then he saw the delicacy
of the patterned iridescence,
all emerald green and bright.
As he gazed his weary mind,
observing the moss and following
the water’s ooze and trickle,
drifted deep into the past.
A blue lake opened narrowly
through white dunes into the sea.
The boy, slingshot at waist,
wandered along a foreshore
thick with lantana, teatree and gum,
air heavy with the scent of seaweed.
Little waves lapping the shore
played a melody in harmony
to the wind’s soft casuarina swish..
Kilgrin saw him laugh with pure delight,
load his slingshot, aim skywards
and watch the stone in curving flight
arc then plop into the sapphire water.
Then Kilgrin thought of the long road
between blue lake and mountain.
He thought of different kinds of beauty.
He thought of the mind of the child,
its curiosity, freshness and wonder.
He thought of rich and complex older minds,
made rich not just by endurance
but by gentleness, compassion and love.
He thought of varied responses
to the the long road, how some
surrender in bitter resentment.
He thought of minds as jewels
shaped and fashioned
by experience and adversity,
how their depth, strength and lustre
can be scratched and scoured
so that their beauty of light
is unrevealed, hidden, as if silt-covered
by lying too long beneath muddied water.
Kilgrin looked up from the moss,
past the scree slope’s massive boulders
and towards the cloud covered summit.
Mere endurance was not enough.
He had seen again the child’s joy.
He knew that in his pack he could carry
joy as rich and a sense of beauty
more permanent than a child’s,
secured as they were in adversity
and then strengthened by experience.
He stood and smiled a little to himself.
Was that a slingshot he could feel
hanging loosely from his waist?
He stepped across the water on stones,
careful to avoid damaging the moss.
There was a little gap between
two of the great scree boulders.
He turned sideways and slid between.
First published in Verse-Virtual.