Caught by the River

Drove Cottage

Malcolm Anderson | 3rd November 2014


Words and pictures: Malcolm Anderson

I sleepwalk into retreat.

Dorset my silent shield. My cloak of comforting dark shadow.

Steaming mugs of tea the colour of freshly ploughed fields served in chipped mugs from the kiosk on West Bay promenade.

The sharp tang of vinegar and airborne salt spray mingling with the odours of the harbour at low tide: seaweed, day old fish, exposed mud and the back-of-the-throat hit of two-stroke petrol.

Beech nuts crunch underfoot like yesterday’s forgotten snail shells. Homes no more. The empty carcasses of precious lives past. Yellowing leaves tumble erratically to earth where they lie waiting to return to soil that birthed them.

Dust unto dust.

In shady corners the air is thick with the scent of old schoolroom lockers, familiar as musty dried soil clinging to abandoned rugby boots and crumpled towels growing fungi behind iron radiators.


The horizon is dominated by silhouettes of sleeping giants rubbing shoulders with half buried memories of my youth. Loneliness helps me reconnect with places that I’d forgotten that I’d forgotten: Eggardon, Cogden, Eype, Symondsbury. Pilsdon Pen, Hursey, Common Water Lane. The Royal Oak, The Tiger.

Names have power. Power of remembering, of belonging and a sense of place.

As I remember I wake.

My heart is filled by the rasping of waves on shingle shores and willo-the-wisps of dappled golden sunlight playing on the woodland floor.

As I wake I move forward.


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