Ilkley Moor Poetry Map by Sarah-Clare Conlon
Haiku Tarns, 1 (Upper Tarn)
this tarn of tranquillity
sings with flag iris.
Much Resorted To In The Summer Months (White Wells)
Magpies pledge allegiance to the flag flying at White Wells,
pale blue and white ensign of Yorkshire, flapping in sync with
white clouds sailing pale blue skies, wind blown along
all four compass points, curlew keeping watch from his vane
crow’s nest, larks’ rising-falling calls echo-sounding off plaques.
Stoop and enter the white walls of White Wells,
dip one hand into their still pool, stone cold, silver pocked
with pocket money, smell pure Bible, baptism, absolution.
Heralded nectar of the gods and goddesses, elixir of life, aqua vitae
—plunge your thoughts, rinse and repeat.
Sudden splutter, sparkling spring’s spout peters to a trickle,
like a tap turned towards off. No one will believe me, I think,
though drought was declared as I stepped into the county.
Nay mither, White Wells, I dragged behind me Manchester’s rain.
Thirst slaked, I slink out, blinking in the white bright of August.
Not Fixed To Any One Moment (Rocky Valley)
Entrance. Scale of the Dales expressed, oil polygon on canvas,
by Fifties Frost; fibreglass in the Sixties, Mitchell’s bronze-faced
repeating ram reliefs butting, jutting over the town,
like the glacier-tilted cliffs and crags of Rocky Valley.
Lucky heather-softened edges, lichen-dappled rough ledges,
the grit is decked out in purples, pinks, peaches, pastels against grey;
above, primary brights as ramblers, scramblers, scouts and storytellers
swarm and crawl at the skyline. The view up here is big,
but focus on the path ahead, blinding white sand: exotic beach, say,
or spaghetti western ravine, ambushing baddies biding their time
behind boulders marked “Lilly” and “Lavinia”. Exit.
Drawings From A Sculptor’s Landscape (Cow and Calf)
Rocks over rooks
circling below, squawking above
the parallelogram of a copse:
windswept firs leaning —
trunks trees tops teetering.
Winds form an image, like hands a sculpture.
Here at Hangingstone, geometry is geology,
“the roads contours over a sculpture,”
said Hepworth, “The hills sculptures.”
The hills, the heights, the hollows, the heaps,
“the whole of this Yorkshire background.”
Chunks of gritstone worked on over time,
think natural erosion, manmade damage,
hammer-and-chiselled words and codes,
names and addresses, Cow and Calf
carved, flanks scarred,
stays the same, people
move on, places too.
A plane passes over
and the light goes out
briefly, an ice age
in a second or so.
Water It Was Never Your Fortune To Touch (Backstone Beck)
Let’s pan for precious minerals,
winnow the shallows,
check the stones for stanzas —
up here on the tops
they’re hard to find, easy to miss
amidst towering bracken,
spore pungent rain or shine,
shelter for ground-nesting birds
shrieking head height at our step,
pointing out peaty puddles, cola dark,
tart treat bilberries at once sharp and sweet.
Let’s scrabble down the scary stream now,
our Backstone Beck tumbling over and off
the brant hillside, teeming in blashy, clashy weather;
more water for the Wharfe,
more words for the poets.
Haiku Tarns, 2 (The Tarn)
Horsetail furred, muffling
brass bands, bells’ plink, crying clowns;
water carries sound.