Denver sluice

Like a reluctant schoolboy
sent shuffling home to put on uniform,
the fen sky shifts from grey to grey:
deep mud on the banks of the Bedford
sucks in the scents of the sluice

The big rivers are laid bare:
in the paleness, thrown-back pictures of skeleton trees
vie with abandoned boats,
submerged, half-rotting posts
and the peacock on the pub sign,
surprisingly alive, to draw the downcast eyes
of the silent angler

Propped outside the inn, cooks speak
in foreign tongues on mobile phones,
reheating arguments,
while van men munch sandwiches
in the car park

The road winds off along the bank
aiming for oblivion
and only just missing:
staging posts to eternity
lurk where the track widens

Geese glide in onto flooded fields:
the angler climbs the bank
to gaze across watery miles
into different countries
as the day oozes out,
looking for something out there beyond the edge

something to catch his eye
something swift and silver that might
make sense of it all



Another poem from ten years ago and set in the Fens. It appeared in my collection, Off the Map, which is quite appropriate:-)