Penwortham Holme

Fisherman, fisherman, do you recall the garths
where you caught the little silver salmon?

Fisherman, fisherman, do you recall the holme,
its treacherous fords and unpredictable tides,

how I held you in my arms midst the throes of a midnight sea,
how your flesh was warm and mine cold and strange?

Fisherman, fisherman, do you recall the tail of the woman
who slipped away and swam up river to lay our eggs?

Fisherman, fisherman, do you want to know my death
and the fate of our little silver children?

Fisherman, fisherman, where are you now,
now that the river is drained away?

~

Penwortham Holme was originally made up of three raised pieces of land in the middle of the river Ribble; Little Holme, Little Holme and Great Holme. In Penwortham in the Past, Alan Crosby shows a map where there are fish garths across the river to the south of the holmes, and between Great Holme and the east bank (1756).

An 1840’s map shows that Narrow Water, the stretch of the Ribble on the west side of the Holme has been drained. At this point in time, it is in use as a race course.

Penwortham Holme, 1840, Courtesy of Mario Maps
Penwortham Holme, 1840, Courtesy of Mario Maps

The holme is now divided in two by the A59 and its bridge over the Ribble to Preston. The south half is playing fields and the north half is allotments.

Penwortham Holme, Present Day, Courtesy of Mario Maps
Penwortham Holme, Present Day, Courtesy of Mario Maps
South part of Penwortham Holme, Playing Fields
South part of Penwortham Holme, Playing Fields
A59, bridge over the river Ribble to Preston
A59, bridge over the river Ribble to Preston
North part of Penwortham Holme, Allotments
North part of Penwortham Holme, Allotments

Last year, the Ribble flooded, submerging the playing fields, a reminder of the river’s tidal nature and the meaning of the word ‘holme,’ ‘a piece of flat ground by a river which is submerged in times of flood.’

Penwortham Holme

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3 thoughts on “Penwortham Holme

  1. Lorna, I continue to admire and appreciate your recovery of myth in the landscape around you. Poems like this about the selkie — as we come to see, in her own voice — help help us re-experience what we think we know; not just a flooded field, but the river’s holme, an expression of one of its moods and modes. What does it say when we lose the word, though the thing persists? Not having the name, we move oblivious to the thing, and in the States at least, build foolishly in holmes, then wonder why we get flooded out, rather than granting the river its true margin, honoring its full life.

  2. So said, how the silvery Naginis are encased in under fill and concrete, only to emerge angry with the flooding, like Merlin trapped in his cave by Nimue, yet always alive, and He and They Will Return. TY for sharing and having “the eye to see and ears to hear” the past, present and future.

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