Horrock's Pass, Wilmington 2016

Darkness

About 1981.  Copied unedited from a journal, with thanks.

People talk of the light of the world, one will see the light as one goes; the way is clearly lit.  The path may be hard or frightening, but one can always see the way. The light is a guiding beacon. But my way has been a way of darkness.... I am alienated by the joyful stories of the light.

Some people walked across the desert to the mountains.  The distance was further than they thought. One was injured and could no longer walk. In the gloom they decided to camp for the night.  One of the party decided to walk on in the night.  The way beckoned.  He left on  a further journey.

Leave the party as night settles down upon them, cold, and with the damp air rising out of the gullies.  Soon their fire is gone.  It is loneliness in the gloom, soon with no lingering light left from the sun.   Yet a thrill of anticipation. Only the stars give a faint light.  No moon.  Scraggle half blind down into a variegated mass of gullies cutting their way from the blackness that is the mountains.

Ti-tree whipping in the face. Spider webs. And water in the rocky beds- of unknown depth as it covers treacherous rocks which even out in the starlight of the plains are nearly invisible.  The staccato thump and flap of bird wings exploding from the trees.  And wild cattle.  Hear them.  Snorting and stamping in the gullies, unseen in the dark.  Fear- then bellows and panic. Splashing and whipping of foliage.  A small herd startled out of its camp by the intruder. Fear.

At last... out of the gullies and back on the flat plains.  But no relief.  Panicked staggering in quicksand- mud.  So much rain that even the hard plains are a mud trap. No safety even in the 'safe places.'  Blunder on in the darkness and mud- mud up to the knees, and who can see in the dark where is a safe place to go?

Slowly the ground rises. No more cattle and mud.  Only cold and dark.  Much dark because clouds cover even the stars. Too dark. Camp and doze by a small fire. No comfort, rocks for a mattress, and wake each twenty minutes to put another precious piece of wood on the fire.

The clouds are gone; walk on.

But again it is time to stop. In the dark it will be too easy to cross over the one track that leads to the safe place.  So another small fire on a low ridge cutting across the stumbling plain.

It must be nearly the right place because of the mountain.  In the blackness of the night there has been a way to see.  There is a darker than dark part of the sky.  The mountain.  Keep it to the right.  Always on the right, and I will be safe.

In the morning he woke cold as the black turned to grey. He walked the last few steps up the rise he had camped upon.  There in the dawn, a couple of hundred yards away was the place he had sought, a few vehicles with a cluster of swags around them.  Darker than the night, blackness in a black night, but still there, the mountain was a sure guide.

 1981


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