Coastal origami

If you fold the land in half
their shores would almost touch.
Two rivers: where mud slabs roll
to the sea like harems of fat seals
Mud that drags down an unwary dog,
run off the lead, eyes now wild with fear.
Marshland — neither ground nor sea —
tenuous, it cannot hold us, unless to preserve.

The Severn, fickle as a teenager
glittered-up blue to the hills of Wales,
then sulking in a grubby grey,
prickling with the wind.
A legoland of boating
lakes, picnics, sundaes
and zimmers.
The sea unreachable.

The Stour, a straight run
from West to East and back.
Thin black sticks marking silent creeks
as our boat slid the shallows.
We’d watch the moon slip above the Ness,
the tide murmuring in
filling the dark channels
running thick like oil.

This border land between
greens and blues
is difficult to cross.
The sea either reaching in
or out, leaving
fissures in the mud
deeper than the ice-holds
of rusting iron trawlers.

I draw lines linking these and other shores
that once were home.
A zig-zag of a life.
Then fold and bend along the lines
looking for meaning.
I make a sort of angular bowl
that could, perhaps,
hold water.


First published in Reach Poetry 266 November 2020 and Reach Poem of the Year 2020