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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 4, December 2015


Claire Everett
Northallerton, North Yorkshire, England

Harking Back
Rookhope Valley, County Durham, England

Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.

               —Linda Hogan, Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World

There are faces slowly yellowing in the attic of my affections; others, kept behind glass, the like of which an unforgiving father might have turned toward the wall. I remember one that showed not a spark of recognition, but when my mother told the tale, it might have been my imagination, but a smile seemed to play about those glassy lips. This is such a face, gazing up from my outstretched palms, its eyes holding mine.

in a dark parlour
the French Lavender shadow
of some maiden aunt . . .
above the hill’s mantle
a cuckoo calls its name

Called back as I have been and will be again, if I have not forgotten it, why should this place have forgotten me? Almost a year to the day since I walked this valley, a shudder as the thought crosses the stumbling path of that other self. Drawn once more into the huddled circle of the hills and an oral history of wind and ice still sung by curlew and golden plover, I would not question it if maidenhair tufted from my fingertips, if heathrush and bedstraw sprang from my boots.

This place. I speak its name and it whispers back, re-enchanted, until the language of the landscape becomes more desolate and heart and mind respond in the same tongue.

scattered spoil heaps
the vestiges of hushing
these belly scars
a tactile preface
of histories to come

There were other aunts, I am told, who came this way to work in the cotton mills, but there the weave was broken and no one saw fit to pick up the threads.

And so I stand between the mirrors of what is known and what is not . . . are these my eyes?

a lithograph
of my great great grandmother . . .
over my shoulder
the North Pennines unfold
from blue to slate to mist

Author’s Note: Hushing is an ancient mining method using a flood or torrent of water to reveal mineral veins.



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