At Dunston Staiths

For eighty years it was an open vein,
bleeding coal into the Tyne.
A village before the new-builds sprouted,
the staiths’ wooden spine slinked
between ships; use not ornament,
this ancient monument a means to an end.
It’s quiet now. Joggers dot the waggons’
old route; commuters left hours ago.
The bloke in the café sighs.
Someone’s set fire to the restoration,
tagged carefully sourced wood.
Kids fuck under the new slats.
A dirty protest? Boredom more like.
We look out at the lagoon.
It’s eerie, fat with silt,
made strange with curlew cries.
I squint at them, these little dredgers,
balancing on what’s left.


Catherine Ayres is a teacher and a single mother. She has a pamphlet (shared with Steve Urwin) published with the Black Light Engine Room and next year a collection, provisionally titled Amazon, published by Indigo Dreams.


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