Caught by the River


19th August 2021

A poem by Jack Thacker, marking 15 years to the day since the passing of the great Roger Deakin.

Roger Deakin, 1943-2006

For me, what roots in the mind is not of walnut
in Suffolk or Kyrgyz, it’s not the gradual art
of an ash bower, nor ancient groves in Devon,
his moat, the farm, a wooded slice of heaven,
but a factory that could be a library, among jaguars – 
walnut burrs and buyers, the price of veneer,
the high-stakes, danger, gun stocks, California
secrets: a kind of benign wood tumour.

Or not so benign. He became his favourite tree.
Open a walnut and something like a brain
falls out. Cut it down the middle and see –
in cross section every little eddy and vortex is still.
His mind: a knot of walnut, an oyster pearl,
a whirling wood-dance – tree rings, patterns, grain.


Jack Thacker’s debut pamphlet-length collection is ‘Handling’ (Two Rivers Press, 2018). He lives in Sheffield. Visit his website here.