Stray Rein in January by Becky Cherriman


The wind’s teeth rip
new holes in my jeans,
tear the breath out of the three of us,
Me so deep inside my days,
I barely knew my friends were there
that whole exposed mile.

Is that how it was? I’m not sure;
you have to revisit your memories, don’t you,
remake your own image in them?

Liz spurred me along,
led me to water,
the domed well
I had forgotten was there,
a 12-pillared miracle,
++ silhouette sketched by lapwings.

We were sixteen then
and I was planning to make muteness
a permanent state.

Dragged from a room so cold
that miniature stalactites hung from the head jamb.
This was the alternative I was offered –
to pace the ledge, tread the width of each stair,
turn circle after circle,
+++ pawing at the edges, looking for the source.

Hard to see in the dim light
but there – a brass tap
with the handle snapped off.
Still. I told them I used to dance here
before my parents’ divorce.
Hulked over by the horse-chestnut
grown monstrous on chalybeate,
we tried it, flung our limbs around,
+++ trying desperately to get warm.

I remember that and, approaching the bridge,
the fearsome echo
+++ of something I couldn’t fathom

reverberated in my bones like…
There was snow?
Yes, I recall the thaw of someone else’s
++ footprints as I stumbled back.
+++++ ‘A train,’ Karen said and we watched it flash
++++++++ towards the future, trailing its echo

By Becky Cherriman

Stray Rein in January by Becky Cherriman

The Lapwing’s Song by Steve Toase


Sat by the skirting Kenny peeled away wallpaper, shaping the pieces into wings. Feathering the torn edges with cold fingers. Behind the rips the plaster was damp. The colour of panstick. With long fingernails he scraped it free into small piles by his feet. Picking up the powder, he pressed it between his palms and shaped the compaction to a small body and a tiny head.

Into the powdered back he pressed floral paper wings, watching them twitch to life in the draught. Dragging his hand down ceiling mould he dotted eyes of spores onto the face, then touched the exposed brick beneath the window sill and rouged the tiny bird’s skin.

Placed in the iron fireplace the lapwing began to cough, but did not sing. The bird looked over at Kenny, and he started to give the creature his voice. First he gave the lapwing his whispers, then his secrets, then all the stories from his childhood. Each word the lapwing took it grew, a shudder of pale dust falling into the carpet. Each phrase it swallowed whole, swelling with the pressure. As the bird swelled pupils of mould turned to sapphire edged in gold, wallpaper wings fluttered to fine cluny lace. Rouged skin turned to delicate ruby feathers.

Then the lapwing sang, and it sang of eloquences and springs. It sang of the genteel and the waters. It sang of crocuses and tea blends, and when Kenny went to speak the lapwing had taken all his words, leaving him no voice for his own story.

By Steve Toase

The Lapwing’s Song by Steve Toase


HAUNT /hɔːnt/


v.  To inhabit, visit, or appear to in the form of a ghost.


n.  A place much frequented.


v.  To haunt one’s thoughts or memory.




The history of this town haunts us.


These buildings in which we live are spectres of past opulence.


The healing of this town is not for us.




Harrogate is known for its past as a wealthy spa town, and still has a reputation as a genteel place of tea rooms and flower shows.


This is not the Harrogate of everyone. For some people this idealised history is a haunting presence in their lives. In the fabric of buildings where they live in one room, or the parks where they sleep. Their experiences are muffled beneath the dominant voice of Harrogate.


Haunt will explore how people who are homeless, or bedsit residents, live inside these ghosts of the town’s past. Haunt will give people a place to tell stories not normally heard in the accepted narrative of the town and bring them to a wider audience.