Monday, June 09, 2014

Tour de France, Yorkshire, 2014

Tour.  What tour?  Tour of where?
France thou numbskull.  What other Tour
Might you find in Yorkshire, it’s silver cliffs of limestone
Turning to mustard and brown somewhere around Malham?
What other Tour in July, coke-hot sun on the upland tarmac,
Moor-grime or handbone-clawing sleet;
The Tour de Yorkshire’s, en Vaucluse, dream sibling
 Condensed from February slush
That skips like the rings of Saturn off the front tyre
And rasps your eyeballs on the Huddersfield ring road.
Except, in fact, it’s real, it’s like
Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostella, Canterbury,
But Grassington, Haworth, Holmfirth.
There’ll be pilgrims
In their millions, a good three, so ‘tis said,
(millions, that is)
A bit will be drunk, and argued, and no doubt
Begotten too.  But all forgotten when
Above the din of lapwing, curlew, sheep,
The roar of the pilgrims, chopped by the clatter
Of the helicopter, swells out of Holme Moss
Like a cloud, and at it’s core,
The silver hiss of chains, the wuther of tubs
Fighting for height
The deep pump of breath and thud of heart,
Encased by bone, then muscle, then skin and gaudy fibre
That’s all we know of those scything skeletons
The heroes and martyrs of a peregrinal rite.

And then they’re gone. We turn to screens,
Leaving bog cotton to weather and creaking grouse.
We follow them on through France, which is not Yorkshire,
To the Seine and the Elysée
Where it will be merely a race, another Tour de France.
Sure we’ll care who wins and loses,
But the thing, the thing was
It was here, they were here,
And here is part of it and them,
Of every inch of Yorkshire road
That we today, tomorrow, can pump our tyres to glass harp pitch
And turn them to.

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