Lost in a Durham Landscape

Lost in a Durham Landscape
I kicked my heels in the living room
while Aoife mulled wine in the kitchen
above the mantelpiece, a painting
(where a mirror ought to be)
drew me in.
a watchman is walking through a gate
pushing a rusted bike
behind him tumble-down allotments
ahead a row of cottages
it’s late
the sky has darkled
hazy moonlight
drips across ice-moss
grey-green slate roofs
far to the right
(way off canvas)
dogs are howling
at a stranger
the ruckus of distant crows
snatched in the wind 
sweeping over the moor
adds atmosphere
a lamp shines yellow
through the curtains
of an upstairs window
the village is sleeping
my bike squeaks
I lift it past the outhouse
and lean it against
the cottage wall
I raise the oiled latch
the back door opens at a touch
upstairs a new born
lying between a mother’s breasts
bleats its first complaining breaths
a skinny girl
sits at a table
wolfing a doorstep
spread thick
with rhubarb and damson jam
a tea-kettle steams
on a ‘Yorkie’ stove
I shuffle at the foot
of bowed stone steps
looking up wondering
‘Auntie’ from next-door-but-one
bustles past me
all smiles
her work is done
for now
she’ll be back in the morning
all being well
‘Aoife, go and say “hello”
to your brand new baby brother’
‘it’s a lad
his future assured
by winding-gear’
the skinny girl pulls a face 
her heart was set on a little sister
she leaves her crust and cup of tea
cardigan cuffs her cheeks clean
wipes all trace of sulk away and
with an excited smile bounds up
the reedy cries swell
as she opens
then fade
as she closes the door.
Aoife calls from the kitchen,
‘Come give this a taste, Darling,
I may have overdone the cinnamon.’

© coolhermit 2023
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