lost in a Durham landscape

lost in a Durham landscape

I kicked my heels in her 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 miners’ cottages
the sky has darkled
hazy moonlight
drips across ice-moss
grey-green slate roofs
the village is sleeping
far to the right
(way off the canvas)
guard dogs howl
the windblown calls
of crows across the moor
add atmosphere
a lamp shines yellow
through upstairs curtains
my bike squeaks
I lift it past the outhouse
and lean it against
the cottage wall
I raise the oiled sneck
the back door creaks open
upstairs a new born
lying between a mother’s breasts
bleats its first complaining breaths
in the scullery
a tea-kettle steams on a ‘Yorkie’ range,
a skinny girl sits at a table
wolfing a doorstep spread thick
with rhubarb and damson jam –
(she cannot see me)
I shuffle at the foot
of bowed stone stairs
looking up, wondering
‘Auntie’ from next-door-but-one
bustles past me – she’s all smiles
her work is done for now
she’ll be back in the morning –
all being well
(she cannot see me)
she tells Aoife, to go and meet
her newborn baby brother
(I reflect) ‘it’s a lad
he’s a 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 of jam
wipes all trace of sulk away and
bounds up the stairs
the reedy cries swell as she opens
then fade as she closes the door…
Aoife breaks the spell, 
‘will you test this wine, darling?
I may have overdone the cinnamon’

© coolhermit 2023
Views: 382
critique and comments welcome.
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Yet another gem. ’nuff said 🙂


C, the whiff of the authentic experience is carried so well in this poem. The human capability to pull a moment and meld it with another to create a gem is fantastic.

The only question I have is: Were you “lost in a Durham Landscape” or “Traced into a Durham landscape”?

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