Caught by the River

Letter From Arcadia

Dexter Petley | 3rd March 2010

Ice Station Tigernut


your blue-knuckle crevace de coeur set my dinner cold. jack london turning in his grave. frank barlow on ice at the hippodrome. here we kept the sledges loaded and the braziers lit. the way to the lake still ditched in old grey coats of last year’s decomposing snow. arse pit like a fishmonger’s slab, hailing bream eyes, skirts of frozen wave round tree stumps,
sheets of ice-drift catching on the lines.

fishing with ancestors, you can hear the water creak like a longboat after dark, you walk on pressed air freezing into sheets like snipped up basildon bond in the first wink of moon. an origami of snow in a footprint. a sky with its throat cut.

then spring blew off course all weekend, crash landing in a norman field.
winter letting go, a bored pitbull that’s already had your bones out. pond green as a billiard baize, algae vandalized by a passing heron. the solar fountain spouted through the ice on sunny days, the cat’s bar stool, four paws of fearless billiards where tigernut stooped to drink:

you’ll get your fishing now. on march the first, magpies ran along the road, picking up their fallen nests. a jay with a stick too long to take off. over wind busted water, the creak of rusty swan wings. the crocus joins the snowdrop. the muddied lamb, the daffodil thumbs up along the banks. a bee on the scrounge. i filled the flask and went up arse pit. it had taken flood with tidelines a yard wide after the hurricane. spring ripple, purple catkins, blackbirds on the fife, water temperature up three degrees to six. teatime when i placed the baits, thump down hard on the plateau, the old gravel road to home. tea with the cup lid tight, still in gloves, sun behind a net curtain, not even a roach on the shy.

been through it a hundred times and packed up beaten. but things happen on march 1st. 6.15, still daylight, two beeps on the left hand rod, bobbin pulled tight. gloves off, the combat honourable, sullen as memorial day. the first fish of 2010, an old friend, third visit, a st david’s day 40:

wind in the willows on the bird table