Background

York in Poetry: The Road North

Posted on 24 November 2012 | Poem

That tinderbox summer: underground fires’
subversive routes, breaking cover,
crackling heaths and pinewoods.
Blackened commons, smoke-cloaked motorway.
Sudden, meaningful quarrels; soon
you’d be heading north to university.

Fog-stalled autumn: drinks half-price
in freshers’ week, tempted by new flavours.
Down south I couldn’t start, awaited repairs.
Long, cross-country trips on stopping trains.
Returning late to a disapproving roommate;
something jeopardised, nothing gained.

Winter’s tale: clinging scent of the sugar factory,
ancient streets loaded with history
and pubs. My kinda town. Sneaking out of your room
before the cleaners came in. Year of the Cat
on the jukebox in the bus station bar.
Waiting for the overnight coach back south,
certain I’d soon be heading north for good,
job in the offing. I’d tracked you down.

- Greg Freeman