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September 2015, vol 11 no 3

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Claire Everett

From an Upstairs Window

Always my boy of wish returns
To those peat-stained deserted burns
That feed the Wear and Tyne and Tees,
And turning states to strata, sees

that rabbit flitting through cross-leaved heath and cottongrass and the cows in their vast moorland scarp thrown into relief as the sun, low and heavy, chews the cud of a long, bone-cold day; between drystone walls, that field barn and the farmhouse beyond, trademark white, declaring this is Upper Teesdale just as the molecatcher's barbed-wire display once proved he'd earned his fee.

goat skull –
a snipe winnows
the wind

Putting boots to thoughts I wander on toward the fells, uncertain yet, is that Widdybank, or Cronkley? Yet I know that Auden roamed these moors for he left his words as crumbs for me to follow. Elbows on the sill, I'm on his heels until he is no more and soon it is ten millennia ago when that ice behometh we know as time, slid northward, leaving in its wake the deep gouge of a valley that tells the history with a body-text of blue-black dolerite and sugar limestone, and footnotes of yellow globe flowers, bird's-eye primroses, spring gentians and violets. White stars of leadwort still grow thick where miners once trod, while curlew, lapwing and golden plover speak of all that calved and creaked and thawed, and the wind that made the great glass schooners sing.

Far enough to be away yet close to home.

a swallow weaves
the sea-fret

Note: *from "New Year Letter" in W.H. Auden's New Year Letter, 1940.