In Praise of Desolation

by William Snelling

A sunlight-mottled river shunts its weight
Towards the sea, having nowhere else to go;
Even the evening’s syrupy light can’t glaze it
Into something pretty. The days are slow,

So I come back often to this crease in the city’s palm,
Where you might see a rabbit stare from the gorse
Then vanish as quick to its deep, unseeable home,
Like a coin you’ve slipped between the floorboards.

My sadness is small amongst the river’s slithering moods
Where nothing means except the thought-clean flow
Of browns and greens and occasional newspaper shreds
And dragonflies ruffling the water where they flew.

Hollow redbrick warehouses discuss themselves,
Towering and useless, lit up by the low-hanging sun,
The windows shimmering pockets of gold like scales.
They used to make leather, or seatbelts, or chewing gum.

Above me, the cars glide quietly across a bridge.
They’re small enough to hold, up there near the moon.
Here at the river’s slow, unglistening edge
Where nobody knows me at all, I’m clean as a bone.