Bridge Over The Aire Book 6



Bonfire Night beckoned us to the bridge

By Saint Hilda’s where we started down

Knostrop to chump but I trailed behind

With Margaret when it was late September

The song of summer ceased and fires in

Blackleaded grates began and we were

Hidden from the others by the bridge’s span.


When you bent I saw the buds of your breasts

As you meant and I laughed at your craft when

You blushed and denied and finally cried

But there was a smile in your eyes.


It was the season of yo-yo’s in yellow or

Pink or pillar-box red and you spooled out

The thread as only you could and it dipped

And rose like a dancer.


The paddock by the tusky sheds was cropped

And polished by the horses’ hooves, their

Nostrils flared and they bared their teeth

As we passed and tossed their manes as we


from the rusty fence where peg-legged

We jumped the cracks and pulled away each

Dandelion head, “Pee-the-bed! Pee-the bed!”

Rubbing the yellow dust into each other’s

Cheeks and chins as we kissed.


The bluebells had died and on the other side

The nettle beds were filled with broken branches

White as bone, clouds were tags of wool, the

Night sky magenta sands with bands of gold

And bright stars beckoned and burned like

Ragged robins in a ditch and rich magnolias

In East End Park.


I am alone in the dark

Remembering Bonfire Night

Of nineteen-fifty four

When it was early dusk

Your hair was gold

As angels’ wings.


From the binyard in the backstreet we brought

The dry stored branches, broken staves under

The taunting stars and we have never left

That night or that place on the Hollows

The fire we built has never gone out and

The light in your eyes is bright:

We took the road by the river with a star

Map and dream sacks on our backs.


The Hollows stretched into darkness

The fire burned in the frost, sparks

Crackled and jumped and floated

Stars into the invisible night and

The log glowed red and the fire we

Fed has never died.


The catherine-wheel pinned to the palings

Hissed and spun as we ran passed the railings

Rattling our sticks until the stars had beat retreat.


From the night comes a figure

Into the firelight: Margaret Gardiner

My first, my only love, the violet pools

Of your eyes, your voice still calling,

“I am here, I am waiting.”


Where the road turns

Past St Hilda’s

Down Knostrop

By the Black Road

By the Red Road

Interminable blue

And I remember you,

Margaret, in your

Mauve blazer standing

By the river, your

Worn-out flower patterned

Frock and black

Laceless runners


Into the brewer’s yard

Stumbled the drayhorses

Armoured in leather

And clashing brass

Strident as Belshazzar’s

Feast, rich as yeast

On Auntie Nellie’s

Baking board, barrels

Banked on barrels

From the cooper’s yard.


Margaret, are you listening?

Are your eyes still distant

And dreaming? Can you hear

My voice in Eden?

My poems are all for you

The one who never knew

Silent and most generous

Muse, eternal primavera

Under the streetlamps

Of Leeds Nine.


Margaret, hold my hand

As we set out into the

Land of summers lost

A day-time ghost surrenders

At the top of the steps

To the Aire where we

Looked over the Hollows

Misted with memory and

Images of summer.

We are standing on the corner of Falmouth Place

We are standing by the steps to the Aire

We are standing outside the Maypole

Falling into Eden.


Falling into Eden is just a beginning

Hoardings on the gable ends for household

Soap, washing is out on the lines

Falmouth Street full of children playing,

Patrick Keown, Keith Ibbotson, the Flaherty

Twins spilling over the pavements, holding

A skipping rope, whirling and twirling;

Margaret you never missed a turn

While I could never make one, out before I began.

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Bridge Over The Aire Book 6