Friday, 24 April 2009

The river has no interest

The river has no interest in my description of it or my attempt to describe it
does not care if it is seeming poetic how the sunlight catches the slight ripples on its mostly flat surface as it hurries round the corner of Hangman's cottage
has no regard for my mood or point of view
how I am entertained by the small boys who,
calculating that an inverted umbrella may serve as a small boat
deliberately drop an old red umbrella with broken handle at the bend
then hurry down to the bridge with expectations
the umbrella ("ella-ella")
will come down the river to where they will, reaching over, recover it
and repeat

The river has no regard for their game either
the umbrella drifts slowly around the pool of twinkling sunlight
and moving gradually away from the fastest route of water towards the bank on the far side
it stops in reeds next to the garden that belongs to the cottage

The boys return back behind me and one tries to dislodge the umbrella by throwing small pebbles haplessly in its vague direction.
I wonder about the windows of the cottage just beyond but do not feel inclined to say "stop";
possibly a broken window might improve my poem.

The old man from the cottage comes out to his garden and considers:
the boys standing slightly sheepish discussing whether they should wade across the river to retrieve their toy
(they have stopped pebble throwing),
me sitting on the bank in the sunshine hands in my lap,
the old lady who passes by mumbling warnings and pleasantries, afternoons and how are yous,
a young girl pulled along by an ugly dog,
a couple holding hands.

The old man pauses an unnecessary moment:
perhaps he is wondering what description he will use for the river in his poem.
Then he offers to put on welly boots and retrieve the umbrella.

Looking down into the water,
I see the river has many layers downwards, as well as across.
The different layers move at different speeds.
The river seems almost as though it is a living thing,
but that's wrong obviously.
We all know it is only water, and water is made of molecules.
Hydrogen and oxygen.
I learnt that at school.

A mother duck, and seven tiny just hatched ducklings come up the river towards me,
but pause under the bridge where the boys had stood waiting for their umbrella.
Why do they stop there, I wonder.
Are they waiting for something?
Like an umbrella that they dropped once,
way up stream,
in the hope that they might later be able to retrieve it.