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“Flumes of Clay” 5-6 October, 2005

 

I went down to the river -

River? No bigger than a stream,

but heading for the sea -

And stood, in wellies,

in the centre.

 

My beautiful [now] teenage daughter and I

had stood and watched the water

here, between our feet,

when she was safely in the backpack

tugging at my ear;

And on the rising sandbank in the middle later,

in her own pink wellies;

And then she and her little brother

over many years

of sticks and stones and water.

 

Random bits of plates and crocks

worn smooth by tumbling, time;

and devil’s toenails, from that time

when all of this was sea,

and bottom.

 

Here, now,

the rim of an old white pot

stuck up from the sand;

 

There were cows in the next field, the same

herd, but generations on,

that used to crowd the wire fence

when Enla was young:

She called and they came.

 

The broken pot was

Stuck; I dug with my hand –

flumes of clay –

 

And out came entire a stoneware bottle

Settling in my hand

From the beginning of the last century,

as if it belonged.

First filled

When the war that emptied these fields of men

Was freshly over, filled with mineral water then,

Now with sand and mud.