Two days at Catton
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.
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