Gillian Barton


Millions of aeons, countless parabolas ago, in the long slow evolving of all the luminosities, when earth, sun and moon were one, the big becoming of starry space and the myriad of heavenly bodies began. The sun, a furious gash of sulphur bequeathed a molten core, then exploded space with light and ripped the gods of fire away.

Moon and earth in heavy unism swung amidst dark stars and luminous black holes. Under a hard cold surface solidarities condensed and auras for airy beings opened. The big chill settled in.

Bone Woman, craggy, cavernous, lined like a mountain, stood where she’d been before, enduring. She knew the place at the crossroads, by the way, the weir where the water flowed or gathered in pools beneath One Hex Mountain.

The many raptors, mountain boats, float above the high horizon
Deep tree eyries and many snakes in holes hide below the pilgrim stones

Here she read the hands of those that wept or came with hope and prayer in smiles and shining eyes.

“The many mountain streams run dry as unfilled fingers in summer,”
Bone Woman said, reading the lines in the young woman’s palm.

The girl closed her hand.

“When the moon falls out, earth’s crevices collapse. The lonely planet spins in ice and silence,”
Bone Woman said, looking into the young woman’s eyes.

Little silver birds flew down the girl’ face.

Sometimes Bone Woman was there with the others of the carved faces and sticks – the mountain crones. They gossiped, watched the weather on its way, and read the signs of footprints and wind in spilt leaves.

In winter storms they roar and whip the pilgrim stones

Plates shifted. Glaciers crashed into crevasses, descended deep into blue. Boulders big as clouds piled one upon another.

At new moon, the crones heard small animal talk and replied in a silent speak that brought the mice, the deer at night, snakes to the stones, and bats at dusk. They fed them seeds and pieces of rind. She alone, Bone Woman, drank from a yellowed skull, talked to herself, and cackled like a raucous parrot in an acacia tree. She gathered up the dark fruit pods in her

The many stone pines in cold west winds roll in the rushy rain

Her skirts billowed and breathed like sheets on a line.

Huge cumulus covering cloths blow the pilgrim stones.

The crone concocted magic potions. Dark of the moon she laid and lit a fire of cones and eucalyptus logs. She chanted strangely.

The earth’s red core boiled and grumbled. Tamped tight it sought out funnels and gulleys and in a spectacular show, molten red rock and smoke exploded to the sky. A thick river of magma galloped into the cold oceans. Enveloped by mammoth clouds of vapour the dancing landscape heaved, roared, groaned and … disappeared.

She lay awake all night in brilliant sleep.

The volatile elements subsided. The seething ocean, the crushing and exultation of stone, the steamship clouds, earth’s ice and fire, torrential lava, and the travelling crust of earth resolved.

‘Stones and stars are good for bones next time around,’ she said.

The rushy air whipped around the globe and the blue-black oceans tossed and crumpled; shouted yes, yes to the pull of the beaming moon.

‘And for the telling o truth,’ she said, “at

the many edges – some stand on them, some drop to death below

from loft to lowland, on rocks and sands, in striations of sediments, volcanic stone and ash, crushed marble, dolomite, coarse-grained granite, feldspar, mica, quartz

some come to kill another, another pilgrim stone

In her house, alone and straightened, she knew the song of Death, when he was about and what business he was for. Some of the time she told the ones he touched that he’d fine fingered them.

‘For some o the time, for some,’ she said, ‘there was a candle’s way out. For others, other times,’ she said, ‘it be a done deal, and there be naught to plead or wish for. They will obey. As will I too thus soon.

‘And Death, the lonely visitor will release me to the deepest treasures of my nature, mountain bone,’ she said.

One Hex Mountain with its vast, sharp teats enclosed in snow waited for the sun’s orange sticks to pull the cloak of night away. The earth turned towards the fiery chariot of day. And vanished time gathered in the landscape to the riddle of the fading moon,

in this forsaken land of pilgrim stones


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