Dead Men Walking

My head heavy against the root of an ancient oak. Bathing on warm earth beneath a sun that blinds me. A chromium blue sky, tie dyed with thin slivers of cloud wisp, air brushed in by a perfect hand. Corn flowers dancing gentle in a summer's breeze. I listen…

Forestry band saws and bird song, a farm dog barking half heartedly and the distant sound of a motorcycle challenging country bends with caution all but thrown.

I lie in this idyl, half naked, with a lover feigning sleep on my shoulder, near drunk on spent passion and Spanish wine.

"Bollix!"

I'm wrenched awake from these thoughts to the sight of Pat cursing his upturned sledge. I ski to him and heave at the rear whilst he pulls forward, corkscrewing it back onto it's runners. With a grateful flick of his left pole he trudges on.

Pausing for a moment, I study my three team mates. All hauling, pole in front of pole, ski in front of ski, heads bowed in resigned humble labour. Trudging machines, eyes vacantly staring at the next three feet of ice, mesmerised and somatic. Only their bodies are here. Their heads lost in their own hauling thoughts, of home, of work, or of dreams not yet realised.

I lower my head and breathe deeply. Then, placing my right pole forward, I rejoin the dead men walking.

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