It is late December, a mild midwinter’s day
——in the week that stumbles
————between Christmas and New Year

when from the Ferryman at Bablock Hythe
——–we walk upriver to the Rose Revived
—————-following a broadening slate-grey curve.

Not a leaf, no wintering geese
——–but one swan, one heron, one coot,
————–and the blackthorn all sticks and shrivelled sloes;

where, drawn by the river’s quiet
———–and above the sky huge and alarming
——————we too find little to say.

A wooden bridge spans the river
———–from one deserted meadow to another
——————and on a little further Northmoor lock

with its ancient paddle and rymer weir.
————Padlocked. We cannot cross
——————–but look down, watch dark water spooling.

Virginia Astley is a writer and musician. Among her musical works is the celebrated album From Gardens Where We Feel Secure. Her poetry chapbook The Curative Harp was published in 2015 by Southword Editions. She is currently completing Keeping the River, a narrative non-fiction based on her own journey down the Thames, and the lives of the lock keepers who work on the river. She recently won the South Bank poetry prize for her poem Lost in Locks. Bloodaxe will be publishing a collection of her river poems in June 2018.

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