Sunday, 10 March 2013

A Collective Memory of a Collective Walk

The March day saw the lion lie down with the lamb,
With a cold, chaste air, but still and dry;
It was the week of President Chavez’s death,
And we walked up Spring Lane to Hemlock Well,
Where there has been a well since 1618,
Two years before the Pilgrim Fathers sailed for the Americas,
The year of Walter Raleigh’s execution,
Paying the price for a failed El Dorado;
We then walked to Gainey’s Well,
Air vents above the hidden reservoir,
Water cascading through subterranean tunnels,
In a secret garden where we peer behind the veil,
The veil that obscures the world beneath your feet,
For underneath the pavement the beach,
Where water was first piped to Stroud, in 1769,
The year that Captain Cooke landed in New Zealand,
In Poverty Bay, and observed the transit of Venus,
The year when Daniel Boone explored Kentucky,
West of the Appalachians and the Ohio,
Six years before Stroud-scarlet redcoats became the enemy.
But we looked down to the Slad Brook and the Frome,
Saw the scarlet stretched on tenterhooks,
Heard the water-wheels course through the foam,
Saw the weavers who drank from Hemlock and lived up Dryhill,
Bodies coming and leaving and straggling in bits,
Walking with mothers springing to mind,
Water bursting forth,
Stroud-steep hills leaking like a colander over pebbled moss paths,
Watery water walking walk,
Slippery bank to frothing heavenly spout,
A cat lady showing us not one but two wells in her forest,
T’was lovely to discover some hidden gushers,
The streams, spouts and springs that flow beneath,
Dogs into cats, cats into dogs, outside a well,
Happiness and sadness, Basil is gone.

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