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Up The Valley

You do not see the cold in the clear typed print,

Hear its crack underfoot or see the flared nostrils of sheep frozen to the ground.

It is there in a neat slip: wages, for month, seven pound a week and found in cottage.

A photo, too: a thin man with a stick and a dog with his chin pressed to the ground.

Up the gorge – deep, where the valley rises to trap the still air.

Where the hill folds over to stop the sun and the pasture scant.

Where hooves make the ground ring and a whistle floats in the air.

Where a stream too fast for standing cuts through the earth.

How odd, now, that a little photo and a pay slip disclose

The reason for the bent back and hands that would not close;

Why, even later, he could not go back.

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