CHAPERONED They crossed the river almost noticing its level, stolen by this drought-fueled summer, oblivious to its energy: an undiminished more-than trickle through scruff and over scrag. This permanence of manna. They passed the clothed-limbs of the Devotion Tree, dressed in rags and prayers, a shrine to innumerable hopes: for health, for friends, for family; for respect, blessing, humility. This shrine to Kennetís potency. And started on the slow rise to the empty barrow. This walk is not steep and it is not long but something about this narrow track penned-in by crooked posts herded by the wire guided up this escalator by slight banks of untended nature Something about this narrow track unbalances the gait, constricts the traveller between replete fields sleeking to the horizon as smeared clay before its cut. It darkens. The sweat is suddenly cloying with each step. Navy skies swirl with darker thoughts and the swell of grey within beckons the charges which roll listlessly, too far to pinpoint. But they retain their silence and quicken the ascent, unglancing across these downs. They cannot notice the theft of realism, the panorama now a shadowed cut-out, layers against the elements. And then snapping from the soil to engage its kin, outlining this fake skyline and lighting this vista with momentary blindness. A savage and ethereal rite. Fight or flight. Now they hurry. Break the level ground, where the trail broadens to protect the barrow, whose sarsen gates are speckled with the gloss of vibrant rain. It is within this sanctum they retire, retreating to the furthest chamber, hand in hand, no voice but breath. The world without, sated with tang of dust, now freshened, does not disturb the scent of its last occupants: fragrant oils and fumes hang still in fading light, energised and calmed. And they hold each other. Full of life within the grave.

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