September 7th, 2005

Goddess River


A man wrapped in a woollen cloak,
Ringing a bell- I conjured him up
One afternoon on L.S.D.
Out of the chiming of a brook
And memories of The Black Arrow.
Probably the man's a leper,
Certainly he's wise and old-
The hermit of the Tarot pack
Or Bosch's quiet St Antony-
A lover of the wilderness.
Now, when I walk by any stream
He's with me. He knows Medlock well-
Dear Goddess river- from her birth
In swampy fields at Bishops' Park
Down to her losing of herself
In Manchester below the bluff
The Romans called Mamucium-
Mammary Hill. I've heard his bell
In rocky cloughs and beech tree rides
And by the banks of stinking garlic
Where the arch of an aqueduct-
Raw enough to be Roman work-
Spans the river bed. A skein
Of water from an overflow
Mizzles down from above the keystone
Fifty foot and hits the stream
As though a giantess were pissing.
That's a place I like to linger,
Sitting on a smooth grey rock,
Watching clumps of foam revolve,
Hearing the bell. No rattle's like
That bell for scaring demons off.