Stret Pegging for Zola

29 November 2007 // Arcadia

ja

that old black box of ted hughes’s frayed lines you picked up from autumn’s last bung fair came in handy on your drive home then. you conjoured illusion there, the grit they forgot to spread on saturday night for blizzard sunday, for the snow that caught the bulldozer rusting behind the smoke sheds and chased you home. here the grey turned morgue but nothing fluttered. the pond froze for a night or two and the fishes hung their heads in silt. whitewashed fields, whitewashed carping as i waited for the flu to lift like a smog off the river.
your high fidelity to river fishing refuelled my abandoned mission to crack the river huisne, to see a winter bung go down or a rod tip twitch from more than a brush with debris. it always looks a picture, a deep summer chalk stream, sandy runs and weed-tunneled glides. a winter avon, a crabtree pie in the sky. sunday afternoon, bouyed up with herrings and mackerel, flashy shads and frozen maggots, me and stephane toured the valley round his village, opting on a stretch of bends, yellow fields and water the colour of old socks:

pools like laundrettes, leaves tumbling like the first team’s kit in the dryers, every trot with a hope-float snares the fallen shirt. the river made mockery of our sunday best. styx and stones. the waddling bungs, decoy geese, the deadbait in a deadbeat. we weren’t the first to have hung and suffered there. this was the first advent window for herod’s slain, marked by a raft of cast-off clutter from the dishonoured combattents before us:

unhitched the herring as the sun went down and left it in no-mans land where pike were once the stretcher bearers before the last gas fell lockjawed the whole platoon. and in the trenches the men spread rumours of a dead arm down the valley where the fish were gathered round abandoned lilypad installations. we found it in the monday spit, a mile of industrial canal, cholera in the time of zola, a brick chimney off a maigret cover, grist to the mill where it tumbles back into the river like nature’s stomach pump:

a little town of railway sidings, bankside allotments and the first team pitch, le theil sportif united, the trainer’s swim with a pole-shipping slit on the back:

i stret-pegged a 3AAA chubber under an old stone wall where red brick washing sheds still have their buckets and chains and doctor’s lapdogs yapping behind the railings. you once described your chub swim on the mole, the marianne faithful shed i think. well, this one’s jane birkin’s ducking stool, but i whistled paint it black and fished there like a mourner at the funeral of the last surviving roach.

spot the float contest on the birdtable

dp

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