SS ( / Ohio)

Frank Graham's North Country

He knew the North Country
before it was knowable,
when roads hid their objects
in height, water, wood.

The names and nuances
of farmland artifacts
accent of bird and hill
and broken wall.

Wild rivers swirling
down dead-end tracks,
all secrets local,
deep in the country's soul,

Brough, Blanchland, Bellingham,
pubs round the crossroads,
clergymen with theories,
hamlets with their hold.

All were grist to him
who would travel the byways
and return to Newcastle
with discovered things

made by people for use
for themselves and others,
invented, created
dalehead fairings

or imported porcelain,
implements, crockery,
carved wood and sewn silk,
rugs, crooks, horn,

swords, farm vessels,
beakers and brooches,
indigenous pieces
of character and charm,

Frank Graham, publisher
of chapbooks and histories
travelling the dales to make
North Country knowable,

fast roads and cameras
followed him lately to
Brough, Blanchland, Bellingham.
In that rough countryside

who can lay down the law
what things are beautiful?
Antiques and furniture
high on his list,

as carpets of berries
made red spattered pathways,
as round yellow celandines
shone through the mist,

he heard the confessions
of Brough, Blanchland, Bellingham,
beckside and watercourse,
dusty dry rose,

he knew the North Country
before it was knowable,
late words spoken
by a hedge fulll of sloes

[2007]

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