‘Transformations’ by Josephine Dickinson


Where is the entrance to the mine?
There is no answer. Water flows
down from the top. The bank crumbles
into the washing hall. The shepherd
on his quad bike with his three dogs
disappears up the dusty track.
A dry stone wall retreats
up the Blackburn’s opposite bank.
Grass grows on the wall tops, turf
on the turrets. An orange wheel glows
near the washing hall, whose basement
is a jumble of concrete blocks
set in the earth at angles. The roof
has collapsed. The windows are blank. Muck
and lead mix with heather, saxifrage, elder,
on a pile of tumbled rocks.

On Blackburn bank is a new track of yellow
gravel under the strewn boulders. Broken quartz
lumps glisten gold and mauve. In the tumble
of the washing hall’s acute masonry are hidden
holes. Tracks in the sand change daily. Behind
the washing hall a digger has gouged out the bank.
Above the slipping grey sand rocks sit in mossy growth,
grass and thyme, clover, white heather, thistles.
A ray of light passes through one window then another
then across the river. Along the top of the wall
the grasses grow fresh every year. Red bricks arch over
the windows.Tufts of grass point away.
A truck hums close. Each brick aligned by the hand that laid it.
Stone pieces crumble in the angle of a stone block.
A clump of moss swells in the angle of the stone block.
Josephine Dickinson has published four collections of poetry: Scarberry Hill (The Rialto, 2001), The Voice (Flambard, 2003), Silence Fell (Houghton Mifflin, 2007) and Night Journey (Flambard, 2008). She lives on a small hill farm in Cumbria. Twitter @shepherdpoet