Running the Long Causeway


A mouldy lemon tinge about this sky,
shades smudged between daffodil and tin, shot
with hints of duck-egg. Grimaces as I run by

say rather you than me, an admiration I know well.
A half-laugh, like the half-weather rolling in –
a slash of rain, spit of hail, snowline on Win Hill.

No point in slowing down at Stanage Pole.
Although the flagstones level a few yards
you press on, pump the blood to toe and heel.

You’re praying it won’t pour. When horizontal raindrops
whip your eyes, you’re finished, vision just a blink
and sting. Better when you can lift your gaze each step,

take in the shades of lead above Mam Tor,
the peaty tumble of subsiding sun,
the Long Causeway’s bend and slant to evening glower.


Stanage Edge, 10 miles

There may be a line
a dozen potholes beyond Stanage Pole
where sibilant South Yorkshire ends
and sandy mud turns into muddy sand,

a missing marker between here and there
the no-man’s-land that holds stupidity from folly
between persistent drizzle and a drenching
where sodden sedge slumps above sodden city;

it may be there’s a spot on squawking moor
where one becomes the other, where the run
of wonder turns to Sisyphean slog
and strike of heel or toe is just another nail

into the coughing lung, a bruise in earth,
dark footings where blood blisters blacken.
Dancing a drunkard’s jive from block to rock
the fog unfurls its fools, mad and alive.

Then comes a bridge and tarmac. Over the cattle grid
the long slope and the straight road back
insist we shape and are not shaped. Stones
are square, wood is chopped, sheep are penned

and in the suburbs
the television trumpets from the top of Lydgate Lane
but God still sings in Ranmoor.