‘Gully Climb’, ‘Winter Calm’, ‘An Teallach’ & ‘Grilse’

Gully Climb

In the gully bides a lulling still. It slackens the knot in the leader’s chest, loosens the strands and tunes them for ascent: chords of creaking névé and feathering rime, lost arrows singing. There’s a longing for that spindrift rasp on exposed skin, a good northerly scouring. Eddying in the creases of runnels and ribs, gusts hurl from the plateau a slow swirling of crystalline winter. The authenticity of an elemental embrace, a distillation of joy in the torment waiting.


Winter Calm

Squall’s lull lilts
a lullaby of wilting flakes
on your thin hand’s fluted back,
the tendons the ridges of ice arêtes
or verglassed clefts
that converge on
a wrist of snow
to a frosted lochan.


An Teallach

We are the blacksmiths,
forging routes on your anvil back,
hammering aspirations achieved at last,
quenching a dream cast
in your shadow.

We’re seamsters, too,
blunting our needles to thread your own.

Along your spine, we weave our ropes,
between precipitous sandstone vertebrae,
sewing and unsewing our parties
into your landscape.



She turns tail at the taste of her first days, muscles through the vastness and finds the old ways, the passage of her forbears. She seeks without knowledge the tributary of her hatching; writhing, leaping, she urges herself closer, each leap a pummelling, each writhe a depletion. 

She breathes brackish gill-fulls, fuels her attrition, till the flows ease and the waters freshen. She scatters gravel with rapid tail beats, excavates her redd, spawns her journey’s completion. 

Lead image by Martin Bennie via Unsplash

Creator’s biography

Matt is inspired by the coast of his native Lincolnshire and the mountains of his escapes – particularly his experiences climbing Munros in winter. He writes mostly about grief and nature, landscapes, the remembrances they elicit and the comforts they bring. He is always moved to watch a snow shower sidle over distant fells or to glimpse a ptarmigan nestling nigh-invisibly in the lee of a rock. As well as writing, Matt also enjoys photography and translation. His translation of Evelyne Grossman’s L’Angoisse de Penser was published by University of Minnesota Press.