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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 3, September 2014

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Claire Everett
Northallerton, North Yorkshire, England


Buttertubs Pass

I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.

—Seamus Heaney, "Personal Helicon"

A winding high-road that has borne the brunt of time, dividing Swale from Ure. When last I passed this way, in daylight as broad as it was long, the sky was a searing blue, the moors green, and greener still. Details. I try to recall them now: skittering stones, rain-etched runnels.

What it was to take a moment’s pause, the only shelter from the heat, by peering down into those caverns of fluted limestone, like a child about to drain the pitcher of its dregs. Past Hart’s Tongue fern and Dog’s Mercury, down, down, into the cool and dark, the chords of an ancient throat. Oh, if it could speak! And not merely of yet another hapless sheep fast-becoming bone while the rest of the flock are ready for shearing. These shafts, so named they say, because farmers heading for market used them as larders to keep their goods from spoiling—but I fancy they were bread-and-butter for some playful giant who turned his hand to masonry when times were hard.

So here I am, where cloud-shadows drowse from shoulder to shoulder, across the huddled fells. And I feel myself blurring beneath the heavy lids of dusk.

ghost stories
deep into the night
the curlew’s cry


Author's Note: Buttertubs Pass, North Yorkshire Dales, England recently found fame as the Côte de Buttertubs, one of the three categorised climbs on Stage One of the 2014 Tour de France.

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