Caught by the River

PART VII (The Old Man)

11th February 2022

Extracted from Katharine Towers’ OAK — a sequence of poems accompanying the oak from acorn to grave to afterlife.

darkness suits an old oak
which is a galleon tilting in the moonlight
like a Doré engraving

washed up in every sense of the word
an objet trouvé
both strange and everyday

and the bats are black smuts
drawing imaginary lines
round and around

so they know where to come back to

this is the time for a very old oak to look back
to its heyday of flexing in the wind
of tossing birds up into the air
and catching them again
of flourishing greenly
and of the great meadow blowing
(cheery heads of knapweed cranesbill thistle)
of the lovely washing rain
of the last leaves coppering and dropping
making a sound like cutlery

easy then to be alive
and oh so very ordinary


‘OAK’ is out now and available here, published by Picador. We’ll also have copies to give away on next week’s newsletter; make sure you’re signed up to our mailing list for entry details.