Not one rock.
A ring of rocks.
Looming and vanishing through the sweeping cloud.
In the centre, the world grows briefly still. The sun shafts down.Everything shines.
dance across the open ring, wiggling absurdly, their fleeces wet with dew.
They’re everywhere, bleating, and then they’re gone.
And they leave me laughing.
It draws my eye. Even when the clouds hide it, I find my eyes fixed on that point in the whiteness until it’s unveiled again. I want to go closer. I don’t want to.
And all the time the clouds shift and part and re-form. The ground seems unsolid, the sky rarely glimpsed. But the rock is like an anchor. Even when it’s hidden, it’s there in my mind, a centrepoint to this unsolid place. And I can feel it drawing me in.
And the wind shifts, and the veil is swept away entirely. Inward from the cliff, the land rises to the top of a low hill. At the summit, a single stone stands like a man, a blank silhouette against the dusky sky.
Just wondering – should I stay longer? It’s cold here on the cliff. The whiteness is enchanting but the danger makes me prickle. I know the edge is very close.
I start to inch back towards the path, but then I’m confused. Which way?
I stop, fearful of taking a step in any direction. The flowing mist suddenly seems hostile. This place is not for me. I feel the fear rise.
Then… a sudden surprise.
The white cloud parts.
And I can see forever.
Depth below me, beyond my understanding; the edge is close at my feet, so close I feel I’m floating in the empty air. There is no flatness about this scene, no sense of a picture in a frame. This is the world in all its solidity and its emptiness, and it is vast.
And then the sea, the floor of the world, just clear enough that I can see the rocks beneath it, the hint of yet more and more depth; and then it is cloaked in silver-blue, sweeping away, away, away to meet the sky.
To the boundary, veiled with the merest haze of blue.
To the islands.
There’s a little passage through the rock. At first it’s dim, just a streak of cloud showing far above my head. But the streak gets closer and wider – I’m climbing up a path of turf alongside a tiny stream, which rattles through a little channel, cut into the rock over ages.
The slope is gentle, but as I climb the brightness increases, until at last my head is level with the cliffs and I can see above.
The clouds cling tight to the clifftops, sweeping silently past, now rags of mist, now a solid wall of whiteness. Through the gaps, I glimpse a plain of turf, sweet with dew and the sound of birds. I walk for a while in the passageway, but it’s opening out, breaking up into mounds and outcrops of rock, so I leave it behind and step out into the cloud.
It’s an ethereal place, uncanny and wild. I can’t walk fast or far, because the cliff edge is near and the clouds surround me, offering only glimpses of the ground. Between those glimpses, I am alone in the whiteness: at my feet, a ring of grey grass, and then nothing. But when the cloud splits, sunlight shafts through it and the wet grass shines like diamonds. The clouds make no sound, but their silence rings in my ears.