Caught by the River

Our Mother The Mersey

Nick Power | 20th January 2023

A poem by Nick Power.

I’ve been passing through the Mersey Tunnel all my life. Back and forth, back and forth. Birthdays, bank holidays, Boxing Day: all the fantastic bridewells of my late-night finals, airport arrivals, end of season presentation evenings, waving in the Tall Ships, the fair at The Dips, the sad and dramatic burial of our friend Willsy into his earthy hummock.

All my life, back and forth: weddings, communions, cremations, funerals (all we add up to are gravestone numerals). We scattered Harry Power’s ashes from the bow of the Seacombe Ferry once, and a bob of seals swam up to greet him, bathing in a golden sunbeam. Our mother the Mersey will return us to mercy.

But that day, the day we buried Willsy, we coasted into the tunnel in neutral, to save on fuel. You can roll halfway across just by your own weight. At the deepest point, everything goes quiet and dramatic. The glare of the lights and the radio static. And I imagined that’s what it’s like, passing over to the afterlife. A long, dark tunnel going down under a river, where at some point your phone signal cuts.