Sunday, 4 November 2012

The King's Barrow

a spiralling mound rising from the crest of a sandy heath.
the air is filled with the smell of bracken. The first time I went there, it was dusk. sudden movement of shadow. Rod said it was a night jar. I saw the shape glide between two clumps of bracken.

as was often the case, I made it a mission to re-visit the places that Rod showed me.

the road stops at a junction. no-one notices the hollow of darkness made in the trees. the iron handle of a wishing-well.

The sand was grey. tracks spread through the bracken. you're free to follow any of them. but in the end they all lead back to the same place: the foot of the mound that rises to the sky. you can circle the mound, make the ascent obliquely. or come at it straight on – the direct path that makes a dark line from foot through slope to conical summit.

they call it the King's Barrow. for years I imagined some king in golden crown and sky-blue robe sleeping in the earth. as you near the top, although it never looks far, your breath starts to work. there's a grassy peak, the green cropped short. often a tarry patch of burnt grass. the grass turned oily and black. charred sticks. this is a place for lighting a beacon. from here, there is a panoramic view of tree canopy, red cottages, and in the farthest distance,
the white tower.

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