Poetry and Pictures from the Yorkshire Dales by Alan Hartley

dales poetry headerPhotograph ©David Tarn

The Village Shop

bainbridge.jpgUnder the brooding presence of Pen Hill,
Set on the patch of grass we call 'the green',
Our shop sits at the hub of village life.
The humble place of trade that it had been
For longer than our elders can recall,
Is now transformed to an Aladdin's cave,
Where shelves sag under tins of every kind,
The counter groans beneath crisps, cakes and cheese,
And books compete with apples on the floor.
Here you will find whatever you might crave
To satisfy your stomach, heart or mind.

Sliced loaves are lifted from shop scales to weigh
Letters addressed to Rome, Berlin and Nice,
And parcels to Macao and Mandalay.
For in its other role as Post Office,
The shop connects us to a busy world
(To make us grateful for our rustic way).
Here every Monday old folk gather round
To get their pensions, meet their friends and stay
To chat, where Edinburgh Woollen Mills
Blends in with M&S and C&A .
The village shop is built on level ground.

What is the magic that a village holds
That tempts the tourists back each year
To find that idyll called 'the country life'?
Is there a secret country folk all share,
A mystery that never will unfold?
If there is any substance in this dream,
You may well find it hidden here
Amongst the cornflakes, soap, peas, ham and cream,
Or in the local gossip in a shop
Which holds in stock: good company, good cheer,
Companionship, friendly advice and care.

Woodcut from Marie Hartley's 'Wood Engravings', Smith Settle 1996.