We roll up our trousers and wade
into the city river, down a sloping bank
of cool mud which soothes our cracked feet,
the water now up to our waists,
now over our heads, down
into a valley of silt
like the hull of a giant wrecked boat
littered with all kinds of junk,
and sit in our shopping trolleys
cosy with ropes and nets like nests;

as the barges drift overhead like clouds
we sip hot cod liver oil from our thermoses
and close our eyes, and listen
as the engines churn up the water
and the seagulls splash and fight over chips
and the sewer pipes flush;

the sun rolls into place
between the waterfront offices and apartment blocks
like an avenue of standing stones, and shoots into the water
a low-angle shaft of light
which slowly sweeps the bottom
—we turn our heads like flowers
and smile as the sun-shaft beams
through our closed eyelids, glazing our brains;

and when the sun sets
behind the tower blocks, the barge-men
empty their rubbish bins into the water
and half-full cans of lager
and bits of useless metal
rain down around us, landing with puffs of silt,
and the cast-iron lamps switch on;

and while the buses rumble by, and party boats
strung with coloured bulbs
thump overhead, and blurry silhouettes
slide along the stone railings,
the light behind our eyelids
burns bright blue.



Sam Wilson Fletcher  : Lewisham, 1991  : Wimbledon Park Primary  Wimbledon Chase  Horndean Technology College  Gordano Sixth Form  Oxford  Harvard  German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ)  : Ink, Sweat and Tears  The Dawntreader  M58  : Berlin