No map or Latin ever
Netted one deity from this river.
TAW meant simply ‘water’.
What became of her
Who poured these pools from her ewer?
Who wove her names for her people
Into a shimmery tent – with alder and oak-leaf
And the flowing deer?
What were her real names?
She painted men’s and women’s souls
Into her tunnel water
With the brother-blood of raven and otter
As into cave-womb rock.
She it was
Laid the glow-cold sea-new salmon
Across their cradling arms
For their obedience.
She it was
With yellow nettle-pollen and the first
Crushed the May bridegroom’s
Head into her flood.
She bore him fresh splendour
Of eel-wreaths and a glut of white peal.
Where is she now?
Drowned in the radio-active Irish Sea.
To the South-West Water Authority.
Her womb’s been requisitioned.
Now it’s the main sewer
Of the Express Dairy Cheese Factory –
‘Biggest in Europe’.
Mourns on the town bridge at odd hours
Over her old home, now her grave.
Barely alive, she rots
But still stirs – a nightly, dewy spectre.
In her grave-clothes
Resurrected by her despair
For her shrunk trout, she wipes their mouths
Of the milk-herds’
Daily douche of detergent,
The earthen town’s overkill of hygiene.
And that’s her, weeping under alders
Holding, helpless, all night
Her flayed and fungus-crusted
Salmon to her breast. Soon she’ll be gone
Back up into granite Belstone
To get herself reborn – Eppie or Mavis –
A girl who will love only horses, and nothing
And nobody else ever. Who will try
To ride away into the sky.