Teme

Through undulating borderlands
Beneath the shadow of the dyke,
Borrowed water slowly slips
Cradled soft in clodding clay;
Past Tenbury Wells
Ludlow, Leominster; 
Deep in benign backwaters,
Recirculating sedimentary flow of
Quiet, unhurried Teme.

A seeping vein, sunk
Low in storied earth,
Snaking slow and sinuous,
A rising sap to bless the
Fruitful burdened boughs, 
Silent stands of fragrant hops
Framed by dawn’s first light;
Through the deep country,
Thronged soft in songs of
Sighing summer mist.

Here and there, light
Glances hard and bright,
Wet from slipping stones,
Shelving down to green chambers;
Glimmering through sediment,
Silent, unseen kingdom,
Realm of gill and scale, where
Pike plot turbid courses,
Making regal passage through
Shifting shafts of light, and
Weightless waving weeds.

An ancient eel,
Emigré of salt and spume, 
Alien to moss and mud,
Assimilated now to
Gently bounding banks
Slips along the undercut;
A lithe interloper,
Bitumen skin agleam,
Dreaming of Sargasso. 

A moorhen strokes across
The steady interface, where
Willows shy of boundless heaven
Stoop to kiss the river’s 
Open face. 
A moss-green mirror,
Drinks the brazen sky
Returning light of
Sun in high meridian,
With glittering interest.

Along the eddy line,
Slow upwellings shadow
Unseen turbulence,
The restless river’s bowels
Unfurling tireless songs
Of yearning for the sea.
Along these patient bends
Time is transposed to
Gracious registers,
Harmony traversing fluidly
The seasons’ changing keys.

There is always time
Along the ever-shifting banks.
We are remembered here
In long-sedimented secrets,
Relics of the Civil War, lost
Beneath old Powick Bridge;
Offerings tossed in haste,
Flotsam of forgotten human fuss
Sequestered in the silent depths.

We are remembered here, these
Crumbling banks recall when
August heat hung heavy, when
Through dancing motes,
Algal perfume cut sweet
Across dense air,
Gnats gyrated lazily,
Carefree shouts echoed urgent
Under dappled vaults,
Where welcome coolness
Greeted unlined skin.

We are remembered here,
Far from quotidien chaos,
From fleeting fuss and cares.
We are remembered 
In profound quiet of
Thick places, where
The languid Teme,
Hidden and unhurried
Gives itself unceasing to
The endless unquenched sea.