Severn Song

The Severn was brown and the Severn was blue
– not this-then-that, not either-or,
no mixture. Two things can be true.
The hills were clouds and the mist was a shore.

The Severn was water, the water was mud
whose eddies stood and did not fill,
the kind of water that’s thicker than blood.
The river was flowing, the flowing was still,

the tide-rip the sound of dry fluttering wings
with waves that did not break or fall.
We were two of the world’s small particular things.
We were old, we were young, we were no age at all,

for a moment not doing, nor coming undone –
words gained, words lost, till who’s to say
which was the father, which was the son,
a week, or fifty years, away.

But the water said earth and the water said sky.
We were everyone we’d ever been or would be,
every angle of light that says You, that says I,
and the sea was the river, the river the sea.

from The Water Table (Bloodaxe, 2009), Philip Gross 2009, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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