as poets can you be sure that Eskeleth exists in stone and wood,
as a place on a map, a mark on tight brown contours, north by a hundred
yards of a thin, errant line that signifies water, a beck that has a name one
and a half thousand years old? as a positioning of limestone hewn and laid
by people whose names are not remembered?

and should it matter that the lintel is low or the room small or that rowans
grow there and that if you walked a few yards down the road, past the chapel
that was no longer a chapel any more but a glorified shed for Amos's chickens
you'd come to another place of water, another wood?

I could tell you about the small milk churn that hung from the back of the
door, how each morning it would fill with milk from Gordon's cows, how it
bore the indent of a pig's bite

and also the black inner tube of a tractor tyre, the heavy fragments of lead
picked up from old workings, a sheep's skull recovered from the fell, the
voices of children between the trees, patterns that lichen made on the
drystone walls, yellow and green, and the blackbird keeping an eye on you

and after a while they make their own place, their own time, regardless of facts,
so real I could believe them myself - or wonder how I could forget...