I was born in a small town, on the banks of the big black River Trent. The next poem is based on surprisingly sprightly accounts from survivors of one of the town's worst floods. The poem is called The Trent rises, 1947.

The Trent rises, 1947

When you heard the water whisper
in Crown Yard and Sailors’ Alley,
when your husband saw the river
no longer lazy – swollen, free;
what did you grab, to take with you upstairs?
What would I take with me?
Would I snatch letters from the flood,
so their clearest lines and kisses
did not meet condoms, tampons, mud?
Save bills?   Saucepans?  Water misses
no hidden, plastered wire.  No kettle could
boil.  The fusebox hisses.
Computers, in a leaky boat?
They hauled fresh water, tins. The swell
of river made the hall a moat.
Tortoise to bucket! Chickens fell
into their bath.  Aboard the Co-op’s milk float,
the pigs raised merry hell.

from Then (Bloodaxe, 2013) © Alison Brackenbury 2013, used by permission of the author and the publisher

Alison Brackenbury in the Poetry Store

The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. Our catalogue store includes many more recordings which you can download to your device.