Caught by the River

To Let Go

13th September 2014

A poem by Matt Morden.

That year, the apple crop
dropped heavy,
left lost in the long grass
there was no time to cut.

The journey north crept up on us,
a summer passed quick
as saw flies strip gooseberries
before a thought to spray them.

Our bough stretched
like the traffic concertinaed
on heartland slip roads
as we talked down
lone magpie omens
flung in gusting wind.

But middle England’s not the place
to talk about the night
a doctor’s glance to midwife
said so much more than
a novice needs to know.

Or that small girl
stood at a bus stop,
her new school uniform
bright in the mist,
and you caught smiling
at Ardnamurchan lighthouse,
when we rode
as far out west
as our wheels could go.

But after so long
behind hedges that hem in
the market town stifling,
it was time for you
to throw yourself headlong into
the big Wolds sky,
the roads straight-edged
by Saxon oaks.

On the way back
I crossed salmon river
after salmon river
slick flows holding
old stock hidden
and drawn back
to the grilse-scented riffles
where their fathers fathers’ ran.

In your room
I filled the bookshelf gaps
with things you wouldn’t choose,
picked up odd socks,
sweet wrappers,
reclaimed the music
I wanted you to like.

And after the first frost,
I cut the lawn for winter,
recycled windfalls from
the shipwrecked root-stock
I planted
collecting the pips
to stratify in cool fine sand
for another year.