The Reach

On a reach of the Thames, late afternoon,
The sun made clear what was in the air:
Flies and seeds, dust and thistledown.
Better to be there, I thought, than anywhere.

That shine on the water shouldn’t go to waste.
It was short-lived eternity; I went with it,
Its sky-struck presence, ambling water-paced,
Meant lightlessness wouldn’t overtake me yet.

Plenty of others had the same idea as me
To side with a shining and not an ending thing.
To measure or be gauged by its authority,
their kids excited, dogs occasionally jumping in.

They liked that border between wet and dry,
River-herbs, slanted and out-reaching trees
And the way its courses passed them by,
A courier of bits and darks and leftoffs of the breeze.

Of course, light overtook us, as it said it would,
Families receded, not to be caught
In the dark by the river, losing neighbourhood.
Before I went my towpath way, I thought

Of sky and river trying to interlock:
Then, for a moment, my thought couldn’t be stopped
Until it reached a western spot, the rock
down which the first bead of the river dropped.

Lee Sands


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