Poem of the North 2.10

Tom Weir‘s poem, like the previous one from Fiona Bennett, addresses a lost loved one, but although both skewer their memory to a particular place, Tom’s takes a more oblique approach that fixes his subject less through physical than psychological detail. This is a poem that defies direct approach, but ramifies and resonates.

The starting point for my response was Tom’s referring in his ‘My North‘ biographical sketch to taking the train to Whitby with his aunty, the subject of his poem.

I honestly can’t remember now if we first arrived in Whitby by car, and that I was struck by seeing the train station next to a large car-park by the water front, or whether we arrived by train and I was surprised to see such a large car park next to the station by the water front. Either way, it was the aunty’s train pulling into the car park that stuck with me, but set me off on a journey not out to the sea and skies but into Whitby’s past and some of its (oblique and tenuous) connections to mine. That swerve of direction led me also to invert the 821:

And, because you are not a god:

Whale bones
grieve for the harbour.

And Barlick lads
lie in Rohilla.
And St. Mary
chastens the abbey.
And Caedmon
dreams heaven’s ward.
And your train pulls in
next to the car park.

(I didn’t know until now that the Dewey Decimal subject classification subject 128 is ‘Philosophy & psychology: Humankind’, which seems fitting…

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