Caught by the River


4th June 2021

A poem by Rob Cowen, with illustration by Nick Hayes.

This mist has smothered us for three days now.
As if in a light bulb; six-foot sight. Swamp air,
Bone-cold. Like a dank flannel from the fridge
Wrapped around the skin to quell a bruise.
Before sleep I took a last look at its stubborn density,
Illuminated by a streetlight, a swollen golden orb
Bloated shapeless by fog. And a half-car
Dissolving beneath, blurring into too-wet watercolour.
It hadn’t moved an inch this morning. Curtains parted,
Brewing coffee, I saw the yard had vanished.
I was a widower, hollowed out, staring through
Frosted glass at a life I could no longer remember.
Somehow a starling pushed through,
Dragging itself out of a fold in the cloaking
Wet. Ravished. Fluff-feathered. A beggar
Blot, black; a survivor from a shipwreck
Roused awake by the roll of the tide,
Staggering through a shoreline sea fret,
Limping toward the sole light prevailing.
The holy glow of this window.


Taken from Rob’s poetry collection ‘The Heeding’, published by Elliott & Thompson later this month.