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Bridge Over The Aire Book 2

Written by: Barry Tebb | Biography
 STANDING IN EDEN





1



Poetry claimed me young on Skegness beach

Before I was born I answered her cry

For a lost child still in the womb still

As the seawave journeying green upon green

Swollen in my mother’s side lashed and

Tongue-tied on a raft of premonition

Trying to survive my birth as the soul

Survives death turned in on the tide high

Watermarked as a bride to my beginning.
In April rain the banks were white narcissi Yellow daffodils in Chapeltown alyssum at the Foot of every tree white bands round the boles Against the blackout still after fifty years In the copse at Chapeltown the fences down the Undergrowth cleared the bark exposed with scars Like stars.
I am grounded in Chapeltown from dawn to dusk Curfewed by my body’s husk I dream of ‘Swan Lake’ Car after car swan after swan across the stage The mad conductor’s baton raised dying swans Flying from the wings fading on the last chords In the hyaline air by the crystal river where We surrendered to its flow.
2 In Roundhay’s Canal Gardens go a pair of black swans Scarlet beak to scarlet beak bend by the willow Necks arched like the great bow of Odysseus; Ithaca, I have returned, my Penelope lost, the tapestry Of my journey torn, Troy long gone, a blind memory In Homer’s song: I sing of where I was born, war-torn, Blitzed, the iron railings stripped, the munitions Factory at Barnbow closed.
3 There is a photograph in the archives Of the city museum marked ‘Shed, Falmouth Place, 1937’; it is your street, Margaret, The creosoted palings and cart turned on Its end, the shafts raised like a memorial Stone, our last memory gone.
4 For fish and chips We went past ‘The Mansions’ Half a dozen enormous Victorian houses abandoned To the poorest of the poor With front steps missing Holes in the halls so big You had to jump and Rats the size of cats.
The children who lived there Pushed coal in broken prams Their jerseys had more Holes than wool They had impetigo We passed them quickly On the other side.
5 In the chemist’s shop Stood the huge retorts Of red and green In the coal fire glowed ‘The Burning Fiery Furnace’ Against the binyard wall Margaret played ball Deftly lifting her leg Passing the ball beneath Catching it again In faultless rhythm.
6 Behind the colonnade Under the bridge Margaret and I Took off our clothes In wonder and swam In the crystal river.
A patchwork quilt Of mossed stones Crossed beneath The bridge Light strobed Twilight enfolded us Our tent well hidden We stood in Eden With the stars.
7 Causey stones for pack horse roads Cut and stacked have waited two Hundred years for the horse sledge To drag them over Todmorden top Untouched by hoof or foot they are Shaped and polished by the rain And wind.
They are the North And cannot be altered The surfaces of change Transient, the gloss Cannot last, the wind Says no.
8 Item: one photograph Of South Accom Taken by the City Engineers, relating to A cycling accident, June 3rd.
1905 9 The grate that trapped The cyclist’s wheel Is still in place But nothing else Except the vast Brick wall dividing The road in two.
10 A novelty then The camera drew Crowds from the Bridgefields A boy in an Eton collar His bowler-hatted father Girls with braided curls Dresses to their ankles A delivery boy With a brimming basket A man with a beer pail In either hand.
11 The long exposure Caught every movement In a single frame The pensioner shuffling With his stick The girl tying A ribbon In glowing sepia A tiny kingdom Swept away before I was born.
12 Unnoticed and unwatched We clambered over the remains Of the Bridgefields gathering Jamjarfuls of dandelions Placing them with reverence By broken grates In Pompeii’s streets.
13 One hot summer night Terry boasted with Ten year old knowingness That he’d fuck Mary Who was six but strangely Experienced in sex Both slipped away Behind the hillocks Of the Hollows.
He reappeared grinning “I put it up her Ask her if you Don’t believe me” Shyly Mary put down Her head in passive Acquiescence.
14 Leaning over the wall Staring at the cables Reeled on giant drums I looked at Margaret Laying back, pillowing Her head against a Grassy mound, pulling Clover leaves for luck, Her eyes distantly Dreaming while I Made up stories.
15 We ran together Holding hands Up and over Round and down In front and behind The hills of the Hollows With the spirits Of the children Of the Bridgefields The boys in Eton collars The girls in long White dresses with Pails of milk.
16 Even the Hollows Are gone now The Go Kart’s Stadium’s Wire mesh set in concrete, Placards round the concourse, The Readymix factory’s Dumb towers, the DIY yard And ‘Beer Paradise’ board, The street sign ‘Bridgewater Place’ Lying on its side.
17 Wallflowers Lost and faded Beige and sepia Orange and maroon Old-fashioned flowers For a tired mind.
18 “Millionnaires of Leeds! You are your brothers’ keepers.
” Finders keepers, losers weepers Loidis in Elmete Leeds upon Aire The smell of molten tar On a May morning Puts the road back Forty years.
19 The Bridgewaters and the Falmouths Are scheduled for clearance The word has gone out From the City Fathers In the Council Chamber To the City Engineer The last photograph ever Has been taken by order Half the houses boarded up Half with chimneys smoking.
20 Grass is growing Between the cobbles Clotheslines are empty The props have fallen Our mams raised up Like a draw-bridge For the coal-carts To pass under.
21 Beneath the City Station Under the dark arches The river rushes Through the catacombs Of vaulted stone.
By the new museum The weir is cold and clear Howarths’ timber yard’s Sawdust smells Hang in the trembling Currents of air.
On Hunslet Road A heat haze: Walk with a lighter tread I hear an angel’s Heartbeat overhead.
22 The wind holds my hand Diffident, tremulous, Margaret, I sense your Fingers touching mine Tip to tip.
Nancy came too And I had to kiss The both of you On the cheek Behind the wagon Wanting to get you alone On a slow boat to China Get you and keep you In my arms evermoreAuntie Nellie’s hands Thrummed the tunes On the black and white Upright, sheet music From Banks in County Arcade Gleaming in Burmantofts Faience tiles, marble and onyx.
23 May blossoms hang In Mill Hill churchyard Over the ultramarine Signboard; in Trinity Church I share God with no-one Stained glass Colours the silence.
24 Margaret, Nancy and I Had always played together When we went walking In Knostrop, climbing The ruined walls Of Knostrop Hall We went to wee Together, it seemed So natural, we had Nothing to hide But I would never Tell a soul.
The other boys Bored me with Their talk of cricket Len Hutton and Leeds United I learned motherhood From Margaret25 Margaret, I miss you, Forty years on I kiss you.
26 Margaret, there is a plantation east of Eden With saplings and shrubs where the Falmouths And Bridgewater Place once stood; the Council’s Transpennine Trail begins by the Aire’s side Where we walked and talked and learned to love.
In the Sunday stillness a chaffinch calls “Are you there? Are you there?” Hurling its shaped sounds in ecstasy across The river from the haunted mill.
“I am here, I am waiting” Replies the song-shadow of my dream.
27 I am part of the green I am the answering voice I am the parting in the cloud I am the leaves of spring.
28 Here is the last remnant of Hunslet’s goodsyard, The immovable buttresses in timber and stone, The bridge and the rails are gone but still seven Arches stand like Rome’s seven hills, nothing can Shift them, there is no road beyond the barbed-wire Fence, they are a shelter for memory and Margaret and me The Hunslet-haven-heaven of our love to be I taste the mist in the morning Utterly alone in this deserted ending.
I am the loneliest man on earth.
The last and first, alpha and omega, Beginning and end.
29 Margaret, I will pluck you from the crowd, Together we will walk by the Aire again I will never leave it, it is the only place On earth where I can breathe, red hot pokers Still grow in the abandoned gardens of Knostrop, Lupin valley will glow again with blossom, Late narcissi bend in the wind.
30 In Golden Acre Park no more The miniature Railway, boating On the lake with motor launch Or self-propelled boat, No more the water chute, Pitch and puff golf, aviary Paddling pool, aeroflight, Bathing pool, music tower, All, all are gone.
The winter garden Dance Pavilion Is gone from Golden Acre Park Only the kingfisher’s blue flash As it rides to its island hide Where white swans glide.
31 The house I was born in Is long gone Steel and concrete bones Of a container base Rise from the ruins.
32 Wholesale markets Straddle the fields Of Snakey Lane By the Red Road By the Black Road.
33 Footpaths unwalked Are decked with weeds; Factories for frozen foods And car batteries Edge the silence.
34 The piggeries no more Than corrugations Of rust and wood Sigh in the Ravening wind.
35 A tethered horse Is pawing the tired grass Among the fork lift trucks And oil-skinned scavengers.
36 Over the Hollows Weeds on filled-in cellars Cracked window-sills At crazy angles Are megaliths to memory.
37 By the railway cutting Chained and padlocked Rusty gates made My private garden Of threaded lupins Pink and blue.
38 My Madeleine Was Angel Cake In Marks and Sparks.
39 By what was once Ben’s Cycle Shop I stop and stare Across Leeds Nine A broken wall By Crossgreen is All that’s left To build on.
40 I speak like the dumb Hear like the deaf I have the blindman’s vision.
How do I see you? How and where? The glow of lamplight On your hair.
41 I am waiting for the knock Of your hand on my heart Too long apart it is time To play out under the gaslight, Under the starlight, under the Summer sun.
42 Margaret, I am your before-dawn Knocker-up, tapping my stick Across your darkened window-pane.
43 I am the Capstan Caf?’s First customer of the day The last child ever to play On the Hollows; Margaret, hear me, I know on Eden Street Your spirit is near me.
44 In the May dawn silence I walk the cobbled road, The houses gone for sixty years.
A single wallflower grows On the ravaged bank.
I pluck the last leaf Of the mauve forget-me-knot, The market-man’s mis-spelling Got to the matter’s heart, Folding the leaf in my book With the melody of Gl?ck.
45 The maze in Roundhay Park Near Soldiers’ Field Was the labyrinth I cried To be released from: Margaret, you ran and Brought me out.
The maze memory grew Into the road across The Hollows, forty years On I ran to meet you in Your worn-out flower- Patterned frock and Black, laceless runners.
46 Reality is cold And hard And beautiful.
Summer’s running Like a river Into Crossgreen.
Euridyce, Euridyce, Margaret, will you Marry me?



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