Caught by the River

May Day

Joe Devlin | 1st May 2018

A timely new short story by Joe Devlin, with pictures, as ever, by David Mackintosh.

Mewing sounds emitted from within the nearby thicket at the beginning. We stooped low to view mirror ball flitting field flashes, dew drops danced on the tips of drooping blades in the morning light.

Evenly spaced prints, these paced-out, ankle deep, sunken dark impressions, marked our horizontal course over the meadow. The claggy clay path encountered slowed progress as we made our way towards the first ascent.

Across the valley a spinney of spindly silver birch stood stock-still, scratched into the hillside, their straw blown inky branches reached into the lower part of the stark cloudless backdrop.

Shredded bark peeling, like well-thumbed aged pages, revealing formerly hidden layers of trunk, twigs peppered with raised dark warts. Books, besoms, lines of rain on window panes and renewal occupied our thoughts, on this, the first of May, your birthday.

As we turned the first corner, upon closer inspection, what had looked like an unbroken zig-zagged line of grey from the foot, appear subtle shifts of tones on the brittle shale stones. Specks of quartz, spots in the rocks, flickered and blinked.  This an understated, ever changing trail, with hints of cadet blue, pewter green and lavender.  A hushed crush of scree accompanied us along the winding track on the way up.

A pair of red kites overhead, the likely source of the morning calls. Their flight path suddenly veers off to the left. We watch them until they become distant dots.

Following the bend round we arrived at an outcrop. We stop to survey the vista. Beyond the bay, in clear sight, stands the tower and sea. We turn, now looking over the furrowed fields below towards the layered muted hues of the distant hills.


Content to Gather is the first collaborative project between Joe Devlin and David Mackintosh. It takes the form of a book published by Aye-Aye Books with writing from Devlin, drawings by Mackintosh and an afterword by Martin Holman. Limited to 500 copies. Design by Daren Newman. Priced at £10. Buy a copy here.