Thoughts on a waterway

I From the hill, under the windmill, the canal writes itself for twenty eight miles over flatlands, still-moving. In the mid-distance the sea speaks, and sometimes fails to say anything at all. Reeds bend backwards idly, while we ramble through a tedious conversation, along the waterway. You say that I’m a liar. I have found them though, seen them for myself in the yellow afternoon that comes, warm, from my mouth. Shall we chase words under the verges into the clear unclear water? You have told me often enough that you’d like to go to the bottom. I can’t say I know entirely what has been left there but it has been due a dredging for some years now. Let’s go, waist deep in. And when we get back, cold, sodden and solemn, with the smell of pure language burned into our noses we can sleep then, again. II Barefoot on the grass, a sentence stands apologetically poised on your tongue’s tip. One rub of an eyelid eases out a sound that falls saltily over the crest of a cheek and onto my coffeed lips where silence finds an end. On the out folded table inside, that is covered by leaves that we picked and scattered around because we like letting spring in, there is a mug of tea, for us to drink over a book. The rings stain brown the milky pages, see. The rings stained brown the milky pages, see, and the book, ruined brilliantly in the reading, is there to bend backwards on the tube home in the queasy air. Dredge it for all its worth. III Tall girl, handsome girl. I’ll unmake you in a word girl, while climbing the martello that exposes itself engraved on the horizon, with my right eye. On its top it is possible to see thousands of caravans that sit like scattered molars as a radius for the town of Rye. Pluck one and look under the pillow for a word in the morning. They have the look of still things but can be moved under certain conditions which only people who move caravans and understand their heft know. We all, at some point, will be in that business. And in carrying a tonne of white blocks down a man made river it is quite probable that those made girls will come occasionally to offer you a hand in the chaos of the sentence with words spilling into the next unwritten field; Shall I unmake them too? IV On the bridge that crosses away from distraction, bank to bank, over the canal, away from distraction, the yellow taste returns. It twitches on the water after sticks filled with lead hit the surface and make outward ripples that reach the edges and turn back inward rippling to the very start, almost into the margins. We used to do that as children, I don’t know why, didn’t have to know why. Instead we ran quick to the other railing to see which small piece of wood would prevail in our childish games, didn’t stick around to think about non-existence, or even watch the ripples. V You lost me down stream, on solid-unsolid terrain, shingles instead of grass, shingles as opposed to grass, making efforts at finding a route to safety. It is more difficult, though, when the ground beneath foot gives way every seven steps, and I tend to find that danger will take me home. Retracing your steps, you see that everything is malleable at our toes’ tips. The grounds soft face does want to take us back to the water. At its bank, the canal lays itself, again, beneath our senses, still moving long after purpose is discarded; everything is malleable. VI The sea speaks; sends us wind that whistles beneath autumn coloured iron into mind or sight to inflate flocks of words with gusts of noise. Our home made, in the easy silence. by writing hands, appears as a small black hut complete with a red top. It contains and releases, every other day or so, the work of mouths down the channel. VII The Kingfisher darts on blue feathered wings as a half sight between exchanged words. She lowers to pluck from the water, with real precision things not as they are but as they could be, and holds them fluttering behind those reeds. In the quiet hide, on the canals side, you watch for days at the out folded table to catch in suspense, the thief of things, wings feathered. With just a glimpse, the Kingfisher is lost again between words we’ve caught and understood, and put away in untidy beds. VIII Frost announces itself on windows in January; a signature in blue, that looks with worry over the canal. Its thick water struggles to give us anything but yellow Sundays in the back of our eyes gestured in by sleep. Eighty five coffee spoons in the porcelain sink wait for the pipes to thaw. The table set for writing is piled with brown leaves because we forgot to take winter out.

Aidan Jenner