Wilf's poem corner

The Mountain According To Wilf


It was a difficult night.

Our tent leaked;

it was bitterly cold.

Everyone was camped close

together on the side of a mountain

on whatever levelness could be found.

I was angry we hadn’t arrived earlier

and gotten a better space.

We sat up late drinking whiskey

though you weren’t meant to

and discussing whether or not it was a cult.


About 4am we started upwards

The darkness and cold

were blotting out my will to climb

but Anne kept the faith, singing

a breathy song and making us laugh.


The top of the mountain was wearing a robe

of cloud, and there was this sound

that sounded like a UFO in an old movie

or a giant comb being played

but as we approached

the summit

it was clear

it was many

voices together.

They were singing

toward the east,

where the light began


like wine being poured.

A droplet come zygote of light

on a distant ridge

our gazes yoked.

The song was a song like a marching song

a river might sing among itself.

The sun was coming up the steps of the song

like an adorable groom.


The devotees were mainly middle-aged,

everyone was wrapped up in blankets,

their faces full of dusky tributaries.

Prayers were read. People were quietly

Orange, a cloud was poking up over the ridge

like a dog hoping to join in.

Everyone went to a little stone cave

the back of their hats blazing as they chatted.

We entered too, saying thanks.

They were preparing tea and breakfast.

I was hungry

but Anne said we shouldn’t have any because

we weren’t members

and she didn’t want us to impose.

We quarrelled about it

but then they offered us some.

They had burnt tea and bread that looked like stone.

There were fat dates and there were bowls of golden

honey. The bread was divided into hunks.

There were no plates so they filled our hands.

We cradled it in our hands. Two hunks of bread to each,

a dozen dates, a cup of milky tea and honey

that poured down in shafts

from each knuckle.

People sat on boulders

or dangled their legs over the precipice.


Their smiles said, Take, eat,

we made it for everybody.

Their rosy cheeks spoke too, saying, All the world

are devoted to this,

so all the world are members.

It seemed a voice from sticky fingers called out to us

saying, Everything

is for everybody, breakfast is for everybody

forever and ever and ever.


Wilf Merttens

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