The Waller

I pass the waller sometimes, at the highest points on the moors. I hear him before I see him, the ‘plink plink’ of his tools on the lichened stones, like the call of a bird. He’s mute to most folk but over the years I’ve got the odd weather word from him, ‘damp’ or ‘fair’, nothing more. No-one knows who’s paid him for the miles of walling he’s built or repaired, criss-crossing the cruel landscape. I’ve never seen him eat or rest or wear anything to keep warm other than a dust encrusted tweed jacket, even when the wind has cut your face like a blade. Today the moors are white with frost and a crinkle of snow and he said it was ‘crisp’. The ‘plink plink’ recedes into the silence as I walk. When I turn he’s disappeared, absorbed into the stone and bones of the country.



Steven John