Wearyall Hill

(A legend of the Christmas rose)

The old man on the Tor that morning

Woke up, he said, to find his mooring

Had overnight become a hill,

The lake scattered with piles of land

Become a valley. A lorry undid

The tiny tangled road below.

Where was his trading ship ? he asked,

And the godchild who had travelled with him ?

I offered to help him search for them.

He did his best to follow me,

Tired and stumbling down the slope.

The stiles and precipitous ditches

Pitched us above the landscape

And his legendary journey.

I looked back up for him. Far off

He loomed above the shifting sky,

The figure on a dipping prow

Fastened to its endless quest.

I never saw him in the town.

There are stories of a buried chalice,

Of water rusty from holy blood

Of well-shaft stone some mason fashioned

To Egyptian measurements; the tale

Of an ancient man who made the cows

That balance on the steep hillside

Restless with his weariness.

The staff he stuck in the earth to moor

His vanished ship is now a rose,

Blossoming in winter white as sail.