Tide

by Philip Rush

It is a fact
that Donald Campbell,
or maybe it was his father Malcolm,
 
completed a standard mile
on the lane between Arlingham
and The Old Passage Inn
 
in a fascist-branded Bluebird one day in June 1935,
reaching on the first pass a speed of 321 mph
and then a speed of 319 mph on the second pass
 
just under a hour later
on the way back to Arlingham village
and a pint at The Red Lion.
 
At its ebb, the stream between
The Old Passage Inn
and the sandstone outcrop of Newnham-on-Severn
 
looks from the bank so narrow and so bland
that you imagine
being able to wade across
 
or to ride at walking pace, even,
on a bicycle from the sandbank
on this side to the slipway on the other.
 
But in only moments
the time perhaps it takes to say a Hail Mary
the tide turns
 
and seethes upstream
with its little leading wave
in all respects, precisely
 
like shoppers having waited up all night
for the sales to begin,
impossible to cross and threatening.