&

TB

Weight of water

Mother has been drowned.
We saw her face lifting for air
– or so we thought.
Perhaps she was instead
surrendering.  Her hair
was beautiful, the way
it took on a slow Eastern grace.
Perhaps it was the hair
that stopped us seeing the desperation
in her eyes, the mouth an ohh
forever and her fingers pressed white
against the glass until it was too late.
Father had her coat ready
pinching the shoulders so the sleeves
hung hopeless and she fell
into its shape.  Her shoes are still paired
by the door.  I do love you, she said.
We held our forks ready as batons,
glasses of squash quivering in the hope
of Schubert – his fete of fish and streams
returning her to her body
as she laid out plates before us
and we, expectant as a quintet
taking breath before the first chord
drops its pearls into a bow,
waiting for her to say,
ah listen!
the piano
is so much more of a wind instrument
Don’t you think?

AB

Unpossessed

The river is exact. Like energy,
expended only in pursuit
it cannot be contained.
It has no symptoms.
Witness the futility with which
we comb its elements, how we labour
to recuperate its origins. The river
yearns as we yearn, it learns as we
do not. The river changes that by
which it is changed, ceaselessly
testing the limits of its disclosure,
refining its powers of revulsion.
Its music, rustling like static
instead rehearses its own erasure,
carefully redefining what it is not.
The river is unpossessed. Observe
the jealousy with which it screens its
instincts, indifferent to our secrets.

TB

Severn Crossing

Do you remember when you took me to your river?
Were you thinking I would love it as you do?
We stood at its hem where a muddy emulsion
slicked our boots.  There was black weed
with its petrified pods, hopeless on the rocks;
and you staring at the scheming currents.
You taught me there of your alliances with opacity
and the treachery of tides,  how I must not question
your pact with  the psychopathy of water;
its relentless purposeless purpose.  We drove inland
then, not speaking.  I thought of my own river; rococo
by comparison; speaking every thought, singing every tune.
Do you remember how we stood on opposite banks
then and no ferry?  Did you hear, through the fog,
the cries of the drowning men?  Did you ever walk,
like me, to the end of the fractured span
of the railway bridge and look over the edge?

AB

Near Didcot Power Station

evening:
………………..setting out (again)
the light now drags the water into its
own patterns, igniting new perspectives
……………….shuffled by the surface breeze
unburdened, at the last, if only of its most recent
confinements, a dozen orange cross-hairs on the shore
flicker as if to spark a revival, announcing our
departure
…………….& disturbing my abortive gaze, the
locus is pressure, how the river recovers our most
vulnerable moments, ususally here, casual
amongst commuters our conversation labours against a
proliferation of surfaces glanced from the carriage
window, the talk is of boundaries
……………………………………..allegiance has
nothing to do with it
loping in and out of the evening’s
generous traffic, you crossing & uncrossing your legs
……………………………………..as the train
shudders into a latent siding
credulous amongst the lights, wary
……………………………………..of    water
that by morning threatens to extinguish a city.

TB

Air water glass sky

……………………all optical media
……………………according to theory
but who can say this is cloud or river
or the carriage light reflected,
doubly, triply, in the window,
there being such complicated bartering
between them at this time of day?
Who says Snell’s law applies here;
light occupied variously
……………………on a novel across the aisle,
……………………a magazine adjacent, and
……………………in my hands, research about
intimate partner violence and all of these
existing in parallel
but somehow outside, lost in diesel speed.
Light sliding from the day
past notched destinations from
Paddington to Exeter, people
washed up on platforms, the river
draining from them, certainty anchored
in someone else’s science
air water glass sky
With a good mirror
the transmitted or reflected angle
always equals the incident angle;
nothing is transformed.
It is the same below as above
within as without.
There is no magic.  There is
no river in the train
if that’s what you were thinking.