by Emma Purshouse

Keepers check the levels on our roof,
make us rearrange our cargo –pushbikes
end up lying on our bed. The log pile,
collected at the threat of early winter,
is deconstructed.

How low does this go?

We won’t suffocate, so they say, in the fumes
of our own diesel. There are airtight gates,
an extraction fan. We pass through the portal.

Now all we have to fear is engine failure,
a drowning by the Kidsgrove boggart,
the crushing weight of millstone grit,
not seeing light at the end of the tunnel.


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‘I was asked if my poem Harecastle could be used for this project, it had previously been included in an anthology of Staffordshire poetry produced by Offa’s Press.  Poetry is how I make my living.  I love writing.  This particular poem was inspired by the sense of trepidation I always felt when going through the Harecastle Tunnel on my boat.  I lived on a narrowboat for eight years’. – Emma