Nora and the Flood

A yellow tractor glimmers gold until a scrim of rain
blurs the buttercup meadow. Two rainbows
arc Widdop Reservoir before fading to drizzle.
A pylon steels itself, static against sodden wind.
Swallows on wires dream of South Africa.

The storm builds, boils, pitches hail
at a corrugated iron cowshed. Lead-shot clatter
rattles grouse nesting on the moors.
Wadsworth Mill’s soaring smokestack
splits a flypast of geese that trumpet their exodus.

Chased indoors by thunder, a collie flattens to a rug,
nuzzles slate tiles under a farmhouse table.
Down in the town, sandbags slump to attention
in the dripping doorway of the abandoned chip shop.
An inside-out umbrella cartwheels along Market Street.

Later, in coal-black terrace, Nora Murgatroyd
plays On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at by candlelight –
at a piano raised above floorboards on two slabs
of Yorkshire gritstone. She feels fifteen again
as she pumps the pedals, her naked toes tickling the river.

Third prize in the Watermarks Poetry Competition 2016

Judge: Clare Shaw