(in memory of Robert Woof)
He told me, once, what it means to belong
to a place, why a place could never be a belonging.
‘It’s not home unless you’ve wintered there’,
he said. I try to picture winters in Portloe:
nothing but pounding, pounding sea
and the remorseless circling cry of gulls.
Unending gunmetal grey of sky.
Fishermen cursing the weather. Up-ended hulls.
Year after year, one by one, the village houses
sold to weekenders, till all the local folk are gone.
And so my thoughts settle, come to rest on him
wintering in his cold home in Grasmere –
where cloud-shadows drift on the high fells
and wind blows free on Dunmail Raise or Silver How,
indifferent and conditional as the sea.