Spirit of the Aquifer

In eighteen eighty four
a monolithic feat of engineering
shifts the Ribble’s course:
no water to the springs.

From the hill’s abyssal deep
a rumbling of the bowels,
a vexed aquatic shriek:
no water to the wells.

Breached within the chasm
a dragon lies gasping
with a pain she cannot fathom:
no water to the springs.

Water table reft
her giving womb unswells,
surging through the clefts:
no water to the wells.

Unravelling inside
her serpent magic streams
to join the angry tides:
no water to the springs.

Culverted and banked
her serpent powers fail,
leaking dry and cracked:
no water to the wells.

The spinning dragon-girl
tumbles from her swing
and slips to the underworld:
no water to the springs.

Her spirit will not rise
through the dead and empty tunnels,
disconsolate we cry:
no water to the wells.

The hill, no longer healing
stands broken of its spell,
no water to the springs,
no water to the wells.

Mist on the Holme

The Ribble from MiddleforthMist on the Holme-
the perfect phantom of a morning.
Bridges fade. The river finds her old routes.
Allotments and playing fields resume their archipelago.
Over thickening silt rough currents rush.
I am knee deep in mud, stumbling through rushes.
Gulls flit like ghouls with beaks of fog.
I hear the oar of a ferryman break the churning water
to claim my coin and take me home beyond the distant shore.

Dobbie

Full moon breaks the rushes,
quivering lips soft whiskered brush the water,
hair line trail traces black velvet muzzle
which moistens, smacks and laps,
heavy glug of oesophagus
tugs water to the bowels of a dread black creature.
The beast drinks deep, shaggy hide
long and twitching skirts agile cloven feet.
His saucer red eyes hold star glow infernal.
Head raised dripping, he speaks a gargling tale
of strangled marshes, dried out mosslands,
shrunken brooks and pools abandoned,
eternal thirst his cruel domain and an endless lust for riders
to sink beneath the skin of a world unintelligible
to one deep as peat and old as the glaciers.
His lips close slapping. His burning eyes blink.
With a fish-like leap he slips below the water.

Belisama Changing Queen

Belisama changing Queen
Of the Ribble’s shining waters
Shaper of the dales and plains,
Towns and cities and their dreams.

A sparkling sight of sweet repose
You speak serenely under daylight
Shallows shifting playful hint
At beauties strange as subtle tides.

Your hurtling force rocks roaring stones
When fair folk blow their horns at midnight
Enigmas flow in endless throes
Your current’s drowning change or die.

Changing queen of transformation
Streams unite within your basin
Bridges cross- worlds in collision
Town and dale and rushing dream.