Two days at Catton – A poem by Paul Mein

Two days at Catton

Day #1

Autumn winds raid the valley early

in a wild circling from a colder place.

Sturdy dry-stone walls are suddenly fragile,

offer no lee to plants

flattened, horizontal and shaking,

while meres of grass ripple, race,

break round the white reefs of sheep.

Along the steep hairpin road, rowan,

shocking red, hints at other fruits to come;

a sudden drop reveals

a stand of pines, tussling

like corralled beasts; one weak giant

at the herd’s edge has fallen

to predator gusts and panic

spreads to the branches of the others.


Low, lowering, clouds sprint and spread,

gusting rain, bringing with them

a too-early dark,

a changing promise.


Day #2

In the late summer sunshine,

sykes vein the valley

towards the artery of the Allen.

Rooted in the land, four-square and sightless,

deserted families ago, buildings

wait out the remainder

of their empty-room existence,

stones warming in pointless anticipation.

Hearted in the walls, another life,

a bustle of ponies, trains, lead-carrying

to the Tyne, tracks and people

networking the strung-out dwellings.


A palpable silence, calming,

terrifying in the hills’ folds;

hikers portering their rucksacks

replace the souls who passed here;

the harsh weather of yesterday

gives way to gentler skies.

©   Paul Mein   10/9/16