Red bus, yellow up, fetching pebble people from the town,
trundles up the Ripon Road, feeling the damp west wind.
It stops, ejecting portly women painfully onto the street,
while spinsters nod knowingly through its upper windows,
kneading its metallic textures with the toes of their boots,
waiting for the afternoon and the rain
which will wash them with coal soot into the River Nidd.

And the rain comes and the sun sets and snow promises,
and Harrogate greets twilight’s mossy fingers, answers with glare.
Moody children clot the shelters, stomaching the drizzle,
sniffling the grey remnants of their play on the green-painted benches,
summoning their vehicle through dusk, waiting for the snout of

Red Bus stretching agonizingly around pedestrianed corners,
hinting of a destination in Bilton, of a steaming kitchen
and linoleum at tea-time and a worn banister leading up
or a farmer in Pately Bridge in the snow-threatened valley
or the wet coal skies of Sheffield and urban night.

Red bus carry me heated and dry.
Gentle sleep take me like soft driven snow.
Red bus, urban, or in winter valleys:
nothing is bad but what she can cure.

December 13, 1972

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