Companion Stones For Guide Stoops

Posted on 16th March 2012 in Commissions, Poetry

I was commissioned by Arts in the Peaks, along with eleven other poets and six artists, to produce a poem-text for one of a set of twelve companion stones that would be placed beside a guide stoop (an early form of directional marking from the 18th Century) on the Peak District moors. Back in the summer of 2008, I worked with the sculpture Amanda Wray to design a stone (gritstone block) that was to lie next to the guide stoop on Beeley Moor near the Neolithic burial ground Hob Hurst’s House.

The journey to completion has been quite a long one: the twelve companion stones were recently ‘unveiled’ at the Moorland Centre, Edale in May 2010. In mid-July the stones will be taken to their designated sites across the Peak District where they will sit until the rain washes them away. To read more about the project, read the poems, and see all the stone designs see the Companion Stone site.

The photos show the text and carvings on the stone, and a shot of me and the kids with Amanda at the launch day at the Moorland Centre in May 2010. A map shows the location of Hob Hursts House the old guide stoop: the companion stone will be placed right next to it. The photo’ at the bottom of the page shows us visiting the Companion Stone in April 2011.

Two hands squabble
like birds’ wings in a squall.

Paths gone to heather,
grasses silver under foot.
We slow dance through mud.A thorn grips the wind
with nothing else to cling to
but its own skewed limbs.

Whinchats flit and whirr,
throwing out short jags of song
to tether the air.

You roll in your palms
four white flares of bog cotton.
Skin snuffing out stars.

This stubborn-made stone
hitching a lift to nowhere
with three blasted thumbs.

Worn on this finger
a powder ring of lichen,
white flicks of bird shit.

Rub Ds furred with moss,
a B unfurrowed by rain,
this O’s scraped softness.

A dog sniffs the block
where drovers slowed to spatter
thick gorse and heather.

Which way home? You wave
towards a vanishing point
that locks furze to sky.

In your cold hand
my hand warm with sun.