A ticket on a steam train via Keighley
led me to Haworth, on the hilliest of hills,
leading up from the Worth Valley.
An area once encircled by hawthorns.
Destination – the Brontë parsonage
to find the three sisters
among the articles of clothing
and other artefacts inside glass cases.
Trees now grow there,
but in the past
it was strikingly bare.
A stone block building
facing a graveyard
of weathered headstones.
I did not locate those three Muses
in the damp and small museum.
I would have to seek them
in their work.
To specifically search for Emily,
I walked up to Top Withens,
a ruin with a wind-bent tree
that may have been
the model for Wuthering Heights.
It was a smiling summer day
and the hills and valleys
were covered in
the greenest of greens.
I could only hear
the sound of stillness
and singular birdsong
in the warm atmosphere.
I was content to be there
and found momentary serenity.
Back in stone-clad Haworth
there were many tourist cafés.
I chose one with a glazed bay window
and sat quietly watching
tourist attempts with strenuous steps
up the steep cobblestone street.
I was opposite a wizened woman.
Was she old and wise,
or just old and wrinkled?
Did she know about the three gifted sisters
who called themselves – Bell – to publish?
Why did Charlotte burn Emily’s papers
after her premature death?
Did the alcoholic Branwell help
with Wuthering Heights,
or just figure within it?
It was evidence of
strong and terrible bonds.
I had two Bakewell tarts with my tea.
I liked their layer of jam
spiked with a drop of almond essence
enclosed in a sponge cake,
held closely by a pastry case.
I sipped my tea and thought about
the precious links of creativity
within the vicarage walls;
and the moors, rocks and streams
that those young people had loved.
The drama, frustration
and disappointment which
accompanied them as adults,
who all died too young.
But they left for everyone
and passionate stories
to stir us into appreciation.
I saw that environment at its best.
Not in the winter bleakness of black ice
on the north-facing stone corners,
causing skidding feet.
With scarf-muffled faces
to protect against the biting wind.
No green then –
only the greys and blacks
of perpetual blankness.
People go to places
and are not really there.
I was there.