Each Monday he climbs the same unforgiving hill,
parang* in hand. Each time it takes a little longer.
The tropical heat, the monsoon rain, the broken road,
stifle momentum, challenge resolve,
but his small steps do not falter.
He narrates his progress in an old language
the children do not understand;
they think him mad ... or senile.
Half a mile beyond the hill’s crest, still sweating, but
breathing more steadily, he pauses by a narrow path.
He lifts the parang and meticulously
clears a few new weeds from the verges.
Stooping in front of the home-made tomb
he whispers, “The way between us
is clear again.”
* A parang is a large knife, similar to a machete, traditionally used by farmers in Indonesia and Malaysia.
David J. Kelly is an animal ecologist based in Dublin, Ireland. While his day job revolves around science writing, his light poetry and Japanese verse forms (haiku, tanka, haibun and haiga) have been published in a number of journals and anthologies. He aspires to publish a book of poetry one day, when he has enough suitable material. David is a member of The British Haiku Society and Haiku Ireland.