Mere Brow

Wind blows over the grass,
once ripples on the mere,

marshland, marshland you will never know
steamships or rowing-boats.

Wind song is poignant with bird cry.
My hair is damp in the rain

that does not fall today
but casts its sheet

between this world
and the land of forgotten things.

Where the absent mere is a hole,
the sluice a blue and emptying vein

a cacophony of snipe and vestitured cranes
depart from drying reeds.

Visitors collide on wings of confusion
as flight paths of memory lead into nightmare.

When I summon them back from my books
in a voice of wind and rain

they make ripples on a mere
that disappeared three hundred years ago.


Mere Brow is one of many places, such as Mere Sands and Mere Side, whose name records the edges of Martin Mere. This was the largest fresh water lake in Lancashire before it was drained off, a process beginning in the late 17th century. All that remains of the lake is Martin Mere Wetland Reserve. The original extent of the mere is pictured in this Saxton map of Lancashire (1577) on the bottom left.

Saxton Map of Lancashire 1577
Saxton Map of Lancashire 1577

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