Caught by the River

Fissured Stones

Joe Devlin | 16th June 2018

A short story by Joe Devlin, with pictures by David Mackintosh.

The recent rain left soft edged shapes on the paving, echoing those of the undersides of clouds from the hours preceding. Short-lived silhouettes, temporary wet blurred stains, each form different to the next, compositions contained within their own square slab. Petrichor filled the air after the downpour.

A sudden surge of trilling and chattering, coinciding with the re-emerging sun, bursts forth from the hawthorn and sloe hedgerow that lined either side of the path, behind which swathes of two-tone corn sway, brushed by the breeze. You take the lead.

The dense canopy momentarily darkens the day, our eyes soon adjusting. Columns of light begin to stream in through the lush greens, hitting the azure floor. Beams filled with dust motes, floating flecks glowing, held in stasis.  We freeze in our tracks, attention fixed on the slow motion illuminated show.

Here is home to the giant ant mounds.  Impressive domes constructed from the amassing of broken twigs, gathered grasses and grounded rust brown pine needles.  Swarms over these scaled-down hills, busy making seemingly endless modifications, shake animate the structures. Under the surface, we picture a labyrinth of hectic movement, mass marching through the complex network of tunnels.

We wind slowly down the valley, along the narrow trail, towards the millpond. Brushing by bilberry and passing the subtle apple smelling sorrel. First we encounter the brook at the foot of the rocky ravine. We gaze up at the strip of sky, framed by the crags. It mirrors the sliver of water in front of us.

Over the water …….stepping stones, through overgrown bracken fronds, on towards the swamp land. Our intended destination, the falls, and that black well, just round the bend. This is the point where you hear the roaring sound of seven streams descending. We sit silently at the edge, bathed in the white noise hiss.


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.