A River’s Path

Across the waving green and yellow flecks of broom,

beyond the truculent popping lupin,

we saw someone – something – had shifted the river.

It ran, now, between pushed-up shingle,

still chattering, still over stone,

but its character had been bulldozed.

The inglorious hand of man,

doing its best to do its worst.

This is where the river loses its life,

where it runs to ground over grey stone,

to live, perhaps forever, in an underworld.

It is life and it is loss, where the running sparkle

becomes a low-flow, then a pool – then white dust.

On the far side, where the river once ran,

is a wooden cross. It is made of post, hewn

from the land where the man it marks lived.

He drowned here so many years ago; caught

in a flow he knew so well, yet did not.

Rivers tell no tales, hold no secrets, save

that of a former path: it can be seen. It left signs;

river-smooth sticks facing east, and an energy.

That cannot be taken; not here, not there

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2 thoughts on “A River’s Path”

  1. How well observed and well-loved is the poem’s river, lovely, John, and man ‘doing his best to do his worst’ sums up a great many endeavours

  2. Full of punchy imagery getting to the heart of matters. Send this one to the Minister of the Environment whenever a hare-brained scheme raises it’s ugly head!

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