The Seclusion of Thought

for my father, on his birthday

The hill gets longer every time he climbs it.
He has been climbing it, every day, without fail, for the last thirty five years.
In summer, winter, autumn, spring.
In good weather and bad.
He lives at the bottom of the hill.
There he eats, there he sleeps, there he watches the sun rise over his newspaper on a Sunday morning, drinking coffee.
He works at the top of the hill.
There is a tree there, with a grey, glacial boulder underneath it.
He sits on the boulder and looks out over the valley on the other side.
He dreams the houses, he dreams the people that come from them and drive their cattle, lowing, into the fields that also he dreams.
He dreams the clouds that pass over the valley, that break the sunshine into patterns that he can read — and he only — from the hilltop.
But he is getting weary, and the hill is getting longer.
Soon he knows he will not have the strength to climb it.
What, then, will happen to the valley?
What will happen to his people when he dreams no longer?
Will they falter, will they fade?
Not yet, not yet.