There is a cliff


There is a cliff,

Beyond the end of our “No Exit” road,

Up onto the trail,

Through the Cathedral  Woods.

There is a cliff,

Left, onto the side trail,

Carefully up the steep ridge,

Past the moss-covered rocks.

Stranded here thousands of years ago,

Luminous now in the softening light.


There is a cliff,

Coming into view now through the trees,

And my steps are quicker

As I think of you,

Your heart soaring,

As, once more, you saw the place that gave you joy,

That set you free for precious moments,

From unbearable pain.


There is a cliff,

Here where you stood alone,

Letting your pain fall away,

Looking out

Beyond this bay called Hope,

Across the wider waters

To a distant horizon,

But always, always coming home.

You may wonder what might have been:

Friends and lovers you could have met

And loved, and they you;

But this is the greatest love,

The spirit that moves in these woods,

That walked with the child you were,

That stands with you now,

comforting, embracing, restoring

Your daily-breaking heart.

Giving you life again,

Telling you, yes, yes, this is where I belong.

I see you again,

Homemade easel, new canvas under one arm,

Under the other, a tin box, paints and brushes .

You close your eyes,

And in a moment of exquisite relief,

Head up, raised to the sky as if in prayer,

You take a deep breath of fresh, free air.

Your eyes open now, I see you bow your head,

Knowing you can’t stay here forever,

Not yet.


There is a cliff:

This is where you used to stand.

“I saw through my tears,”

You said many times,

But no one came to wipe them away.

Did you know I would find you?

I hope so, and also

That you hear me now, I hope,

Here, take my hand,

And we will stand here together,

Becoming more luminous in the darkness

As we wait.

6 thoughts on “There is a cliff

    • No. The poem is inspired by Wilma Butchart, an elderly woman I met when I first moved to Hope Ness in 1979. She was a remarkable woman born and raised in the community. She suffered much unhappiness in her life, but retained a strong spirit. That lookout was her special place, the place she went for spiritual consolation. She is my muse, you might say. The poem is also about being spiritually free when the time comes, and being united finally with the spirit of everyone we loved in life.

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