Whitby At Night
In the warren of the old town,
hunkered down behind the cliffs,
whitewashed cottages face outwards
towards the raging north sea.
The small harbour town of Whitby
is quickly quietening down after a hot
day of commotion.
I have walked these worn cobblestones
a thousand times or more, but never
this late and never alone.
It isn’t long before the ancient port
is hushed and dark.
Seagulls have finished trawling the streets
for lost chips, and at the bottom
of The 199 Steps I stand and wait.
A couple come down, her knickers
clutched tightly in one hand, his fingers
wrapped around her waist.
They don’t catch my eye and disappear.
I hear them start to run.
It is past the witching hour when
I catch the sound of claws moving
down across the steps of stone
I keep my eyes open and the moon disappears.
I remain motionless while the hound
circles me. Heavy, coarse fur
scratches my bare legs.
Its growl is deep and for the first time
I am truly afraid.
Then hands, cold as corpse wax candles
are upon me and I know this is the end.
There is the sad cry of a curlew as I am
lifted up and above the frothing sea,
heavy wings beat the blackened sky.
The cobbles will lose their chill
in the milky light of dawn.
Nets will be drawn in, stuffed
with gasping fish.
Tourists will ascend the steps
counting, pausing to rest when
their heart demands it.