Caught by the River

Bantry Bay: a poem by Rob Cowen

24th September 2017

What will we do now?
We’re adrift. Apart.
Somewhere else.
I’ll sit on this wall. And feel,
The familiar yearning. The pang.
Sharp as the seaweed stink,
Of Bantry Bay at its lowest ebb.
Bereft. The stranded lobster pots.
The drunken boats,
And tuneless saw-song of gulls,
Marshalling the rabble on what must be done,
Before the tide returns.

I’m here because I must be,
Part of this industry of words,
Like a sea rolling in and out;
Filling, fulfilling;
Presentations in smart hotels.
Awkward questions: Isn’t climate change just a myth?
And those that sit, eyes closed;
Riding the ebb and flow of words,
Adrift. Apart. Somewhere else.
Carried from, or perhaps to,
Moments and others;
To reach for things gone yet here,
Like seaweed now unseen,
Frilling, swelling, under the tide
Beckoned back by the gulls.
While these eyes and thoughts were
Somewhere else.

And I’m trying to make sense of all of it:
the gulls, the lobster pots, the boats,
The sheer perfection of muscle-mass mountain across the bay,
A haunch poised to rise.
And the way the light breaks through the fag-ash grey,
In shards of transparent gold.
Like sugarwork.
And all that’s beyond. And us.
It drains the battery, this divining,
But in times like these
There are those of us that need more than,
That which keeps us alive,
In these suspended times,
Between the arriving and the going,
Those that feel the yearn to be lifted,
To somewhere outside time and place.
And where, briefly, things don’t change and the tide doesn’t return.
And time isn’t passing with you there and me here,
Adrift. Apart.


Rob on Caught by the River / on Twitter