Wharfedale Boxing Day 1960
The road at Bolton Abbey, going nowhere, industrially
Was narrow, wound and slipped. Its
Camber saw no logic in its whimsies
Slip and slant, a pleasure to the eye.
The car parks, open fields, empty
Void of vehicle, tent or trailer: green
Foil to the browning bracken, the Abbey’s
Cool gravity and Wharfe’s ambivalence.
And Simon’s Seat black chipped silhouette
Stood up over Aptrick and set desires
To climb and eagle gaze momentarily on
Pen-y-ghent, see the white snake of Wharfe below.
At Burnsall the river rode on unmistakably
To the sea, anticipating its waves, in
A hurry, baulked by the bridge, slipped
Darkly smoothly frowningly through diminished arches.
Grassington was grey, periodically lost
In thick rain-laden clouds that low
Ran down from Kilnsey, still potent
Oceans of water unleashed on roof and rambler.
And in the evening, sleet dived over
High white walls in Catherine wheel exuberance
Choking the headlamps’ beams and building
Opaque encrustments in the windscreen’s dwindling arcs.
Before the noon of night, downdale again
The air was clear to the stars, and in
The soft black hollowed darkness
Ilkley’s ribboned lights blazed explosively.