Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Last Man on the Mountain by Brian Rankin

As promised a few weeks ago here is another one of Brian Rankin's poems. 'The Last Man on the Mountain', is one of my favourites. The story is simple yet moving and by the end you can almost smell the turf.

The Last Man on the Mountain
by Brian Rankin

This soil, this turf, this land of his-
Eighty years below his feet,
Man and boy with his bare hands-
Each year he cut his peats.

He did not see it as a chore
Even tho' it was so tiring,
He saw it as a fair exchange
For all his winter's firing.

He stacked them up like his father did
To dry out in the sun,
Then drew them home into the shed
Many's a weary run.

He remembered the mountain as a boy-
When many neighbours would toil
To gather in their winter fuel,
Before the days of oil.

He remembered the crack, the noise, the fun-
Tractors at full throttle
Welcome lunch beaks, soda farls,
Warm tea in a bottle.

But that was many years ago-
Too many to be countin'
Numbers dwindled till he was left-
The last man on the mountain.

But he was at peace - he was content,
His sharp spade slicing clean.
Jet black peats coaxed up and out-
To land on grass of green.

Long centuries in the making
By mother nature good,
But yielded up so willingly
To those who understood.

He knew nothing of a T.V.
Or trips to foreign lands-
But he had a leather bible
Worn smooth by his rough hands.

And that was how he passed the time
Those dark and wintry nights,
Cosy in his favourite chair
Reading by firelight.

A basket of turf was burned each night,
Carried inside from the shed-
When they were all used - it was time
To head on up to bed.

But this one night - he stayed in his chair
Whatever was his notion......
He watched the in a trance
The peats burned in slow motion.

He threw the last one on the fire
Up drifted smoke so sweet,
Soothing..familiar..part of him
The smell, the glow the heat.

But every fire ends up ashes-
Flames for a while then gone,
Something told him, as he closed his eyes
That he might not see the dawn.

Aye - eighty summers he had seen-
But his time was finished here.
A ship well-sailed, a race well-run-
He somehow had no fear.

The last peat faded - and so did he
The clock slipped past eleven.....
With a smile he mumbled his last words-
I hope.....there's heaven.

If you would like a copy of Brian's books - 'Walking Through the Heather' and 'Big Mary' (proceeds from which go to charity). Please phone him on Tel: 028 777 63082

No comments:

Post a Comment