These are grey, damp days,
water hanging in the air and single raindrops
sliding down the surface of each leaf.
Streams are unearthing in our wake and all is mud.
And we have sour banks and bogs to cross
and little dams to dig. And broken branches to grasp and snap
and the leaden pipe and the ten foot drop,
the suck of mud and the deep retrieval of socks.
We are all here, the children,
lured by an empty reservoir deep sunk in trees,
thrilled by the cling of mud and errant water,
braving the chestnut screen that keeps us out.
We sink slowly into saturation.
Lulled by lost mills and wells, and the soft fill
of our own breathing, we inhale, exhale,
the fluid substance of old stories, mesmerised.
Once we found a willow domed in ancient drapery.
Caught between its low and supple branches
were linen shirts and silken dresses
bleached in sunlight, leached clean, depleted, dry as a bone.
Stumbling over tributaries, we nudge and push.
All rough-edged and laughing loud, we leap
clear over clustered isles of rushes, knowing
briars and docks will never tell and nor will we.
These are grey, damp days still.
Windscreen wipers hover between slide and scrape
but we are dry; the sluice gates to another world
now shut to us and we know why.
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Annie Kissack would be
pleased to hear them.