Avon ii

When the Avon is high

She magnifies the beds of winterbournes

With her cold, embedded water.

Layers of leaves,

Spent rushes, flints, the remains of crayfish

Presented for analysis

Under her volume of glass.

The bloated

Struggling branches

Of the poor drowned trees.

When the river floods she moves in

To occupy the grazing by Cuttenham Farm,

Lifting the normal restrictions

On the duck

Whose landing grounds

Now hold the sky.

Off they go,

Their fellowship noisily airborne

Where the road spans the river

An arc of iron

And brick buttresses

Clean-sided by the flood.

Making height they head away

Across drilled winter wheat

Oil-feathered, water-dark

These friends,

Their tear drop silhouettes,

Embarking to defeat something

Very bad.

Evening evacuates the last of the light

Onto the landing grounds,

But acts of heroism take time,

Especially those performed over the horizon

So that we lose patience

And turn our backs on what is suddenly overhead,

Going like the clappers

Steering over the black stab

And cotton of the tree tops,

The lost river,

The snipe field’s silver timber, the

Dark warning valves of foxholes

One more time they circle,

It is getting dark

And they are making sure of their water.

This is their time,

Their ambition.


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