• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 07
Image by

On Arncliffe crags

From 30,000 feet, spring-thawed tundra folds in on itself like a brain – not human blood-brown, but grey matter threaded with silver-wired creeks. A repository of hoof and arrow, sled and skin, sucked deep into the vast barrow of Arctic mind where Earth hides her memories – in the secret dark, as we all do.
        Is that what the falcon sees, slicing the smaller airs above Littondale’s limestone steppes? The dark-moon eye catches a flinch, a shiver between the clints: a fern trembles, droplet falls, a beetle scurries into the grike’s cleft.
        We went up there once, fell-booting it up the steep pasture onto a high, grey plateau bright with lapwings’ calls, and hopscotched the sharp clints to the scarp edge. ‘Watch your step,’ Dick said, ‘or you’ll snap an ankle.’
        The surface isn’t the thing; it’s the grikes and shakeholes – the slits and knifewound gullies where stone’s old darkness reaches up to claim us for memory. The knapped flint, the hairgrip, the sheep-bone flute, all lost beyond arm’s reach and raptor’s eye. All sucked down to hell, beyond all hope of archaeology.
        Children knew it then, chanting, holding their collars against the pavement cracks’ curse: a deep blood-memory of the grikes. But where do those knowings dwell? In the brain’s intestinal folds? Or up with the falcon, mind soaring free of matter?
        A cloudbank blew in shadow. We ran the scree down to the gill, and followed it out into the sheep-safe dale.