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A Hundred Gourds 3:4 September 2014

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Claire Everett – UK


The Forbidden Corner


in early light
your shape while you are sleeping . . .
if we should part
I'd bring to each sunrise sky
the landscape I've called home

It's traditional. Every year, sometime between Summer's Day (when we were first handfasted with sheep and crows as witnesses) and May 15th (our 'official' anniversary). After all, if the Queen can have two birthdays. . . I'm sure most folk have taken Tony's declaration with a pinch of salt, but renewing your vows on a tandem is not so outlandish when you consider people parachute and deep sea dive into wedded bliss. Tallulah is as good at multi-tasking as any other of her sex and can't wait to have petals drifting through her spokes as she doubles up as transport and maid of honour. We just might have to forgo the exchanging of rings.

Blue skies at dawn. A perfect day for heading into the Dales. Such an aisle! May, with all the trimmings. And this bride in Lycra, happy to be out-blushed by the Shire in her heirloom gown of hawthorn and wild garlic.

I've been mentally-rehearsing my vows, but I'm still taken aback when, on a quiet stretch of (uphill) road, just after Middleham, my pilot, my betrothed, my better half, suddenly calls upon the Gods and the wights of this land and finds himself oh-so-gently heckled by a wide-eyed, dun-brown cow. His gift for speaking so eloquently off the top of his head and from the bottom of his heart, never ceases to amaze me and by the time it's my turn, I'm teary, cars are starting to pass by and most of what I wanted to say has vanished into the ether. But as I finish and we whoop downhill, I can't help but notice a pair of swallows flanking us momentarily, then tinkling and chittering into the wind like tin cans trailing the newlyweds' car as it disappears over the horizon.

Our destination suits the occasion, especially when many a casual observer might have thought, given the twists and turns our lives had taken up to that point, the adventure we embarked on five years ago was pure folly. What better way to spend the day than following paths that lead to nowhere among cascades of wildflowers; climbing spiralling staircases for no reason but to admire the view; opening door after door until you find the right one that takes you to Neptune's fountain just so you can return via the stepping stones, avoiding every moss-clad gargoyle that threatens to squirt you as you hurry by? Why not venture a little closer to Caliban's cave, or peer through the branches to catch a glimpse of Aphrodite, just as Actaeon did?

Hand in hand we go. Round and round we go. Such laughter. Almost too relaxed for the long ride home.

you took the road
that led to a woman
with five children . . .
all the puzzles and the joys
of that forbidden corner


Notes: The Forbidden Corner is a tourist attraction in North Yorkshire, originally built as a 'folly'.



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