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Churn Milk Joan

Standing Stone / Menhir


"A lonely stone
Afloat in the stone heavings of emptiness
Keeps telling her tale. Foxes killed her.

You take the coins out of the hollow in the top of it.
Put your own in. Foxes killed her here.
Why just here? Why not five yards that way?
A squared column, planted by careful labour.

Sun cannot ease it, though the moors grow warm.

Foxes killed her, and her milk spilled.

Or they did not. And it did not. Maybe

Farmers brought their milk this far, and cottegers
From the top of Luddenden valley left cash
In the stones crown, probably in vinegar,
And the farmers left their change. Relic of The Plague.

Churn-milk jamb. And Joan did not come trudging
Through the long swoon of moorland
With her sodden feet, nipped face.
Neither snow nor foxes made her lie down
While they did whatever they wanted.

The negative of the skylines is blank.

Only a word wrenched. Then the pain came,
And her mouth opened.

And now all of us,
Even this stone, have to be memorials
Of her futile stumblings and screams
And awful death".

Churn-Milk Joan
Ted Hughes

Remains of Elmet
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
21st October 2006ce
Edited 21st October 2006ce

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