Quarter Mile Bridge

As the curtain of ice swept back
Leaving only a blanket of drift and till
The rivers emerged from their ice-coat
Throwing off old shackles
New courses cut, new ways found
Vital, young again, challenging –
They swept forth through these soft lands
Breathing deep in the warming air
Of a new Spring-epoch;
And for endless years
Men used that course
Thinking it ancient;
For trade, for war, for lookout,
Until a new water-path was broached
No flow there, no bore;
No ebb, no flood, no fetch…
Yet it is here, below the Needwood
The two life-bloods entwine,
One, the course of nature
The other, the cut of man
Side by side they co-exist
At the weir, a gentle embrace
A deft kiss – before they part once more.
Above their meeting,
Above their parting,
Runs the Quarter Mile Bridge;
Floating; a hover-fly above the washlands,
Oftentimes, the morning mist
Breathes so lightly on the ground
That the bridge dances on cloud
Perspectives diminishing,
Vistas opening
A chance, perhaps, to pause:
To think, to touch gentle waters;
To bridge the water worlds
Of yesterday, today and tomorrow.


Rivers of grit, in milk suspended
Dashing, splintering, formula racing
Youthful effervescence, rocks upended
Rippling pools, iris eyes facing

Rivers of youth, etching each terrace
Through till, pebble, gravel loaded loam
Wily he flows under bright Polaris
Eyeing beaver, who damns his home

Rivers of deception, languid, calming
A snake at ease yet half-closed, eyeing
A killer ready, snatching, harming
Rasping at the bank, whirling, dying

Rivers of majesty, industrious, mighty
Dredged, cut, but words left unspoke
The setting, scene, curtain rising nightly
On cities, on ships, on chimneys, on smoke

Rivers of blood, for the King’s clotted Shilling
Brothers slashed, cracked and scarred
Evening falls on veins split spilling
Babbling brooks stained by Morning Stars

Rivers of tarmac, inexorably weaving
A hunter’s web, a black passion play
Shimmering, sparkling, lights streaking
Cars spitting acid, biting prey

Rivers of steel, piercing higher
Mirroring back our urban theorem
Eats worker bees with carnal desire
Spewing them out to a pendulum rhythm

Rivers of honour, tick follows tock
Bindings bond, seeds for sewing
A wheatsheaf worshipped by a hanging knot
In our hearth, our hearts over flowing

To the rivers Blythe, Dart, Mersey and Trent, Severn, Eden, Goyt and Dove
For D