Oxford Canal

by Sarah Watkinson

You board at Lower Heyford
don’t quite get to Banbury.
There and back takes a whole week-end.
You won’t mind, you’ll soon abandon timetables and goals,
route planners, maps, clocks and choices
to the engine’s steady underwater pulse
and life between parallel lines.

You move on a lane of water
round hillsides at the pace of a horse walking
float under roads, through the O
of a tunnel and its upside-down twin
lift the balanced bridges, open and close locks, enjoy
the real and simple physics of it all

and when you stop and moor, stepping out
into damp dawns, you encounter empty fields, cow-parsley
or at midnight, glow-worms in the long grass at Aynho.