Silence erects thick walls of inertia About the ground of dilemma, To bound and contain, to drain Resolution from willing ponds – But talk can too easily overwhelm And divert attention, capture Desire too eagerly in gestures Of consequence and action – Sweeps of generous hand, Buckets of excavation, and land Turned over upon itself Before the well-framed question – We stand and mourn good earth Sacrificed to gratification, And, in our rush to raise a hand, To rouse the hue and cry Why not peer down, down the valley, To see the river braiding by, To ask where, how, underground, Its waters rise and trickle down? Contours and grasses, tales told In hedgerow seepage, and tracks Of squeamish badger, homeward Bound by Dawn’s guitar, skirting Brightest blades of lushest rye Where water shines to hasten An osmotic dance too early In the van of reluctant Spring – Ah, Dearly talkative Comrade, Who shuffles heaps of paper And overlooks the mowhay Of Little Regarded Farm, And the contentment of geese, The security and peace Of little regarded dragonflies Beneath the dry-cheeked willow – What do they say, what yarn entwine From season’s slowly spinning wheel, That we might bind an argument To preserve the brittle wax and wane Of brave Kenwyn’s riverly zeal? It could not do that water dries To starve the delta sluice below, Yet gladiators and champions Cry and rant for craven arena, For thumbs up, thumbs down, ‘Let innocence die, and mercy Shrivel!’ As starving eels go Between the Bull Head’s stones And minnow shadows, doubtful Weedy sanctuaries of good trout Pulled by ticklish boys to plate, Let all this, and simple pleasures Of naked feet in birthday rites Of expedition and assurance, Probes of city children to test The faith and sense of prayer, To know, as curving spines prevent The eye and ear from going there, That source and tribute, delight, In water for the curing hides, In currents turning oaken wheels, And pools reflecting uncertainty’s Afternoon as lonely confides And whispers to the waters And its images of captured cloud, How time and motion of tides Tells twilight how it feels – O! How it feels beside the ford, Between the parish bridges, To know the dawn and dusk decide The silhouette’s bladed ridges – Everything runs down to rivers, Water and mis-ploughed soils, Minerals and broken branches And blanching cadaver oils, And the seedsman casts his arm Where shoots extend and green And wave in passing seasons To tell where droughts and gluts Have blown and drenched and been – And the music of the water Eases the passage of those passing Under solemn joists from Coosebean, Whose rafts will drift to Lyonesse On currents of pyre and grail: Would we, with all our engineering, Deny the myth its resurrection? Or we, with theatres of gasping balls And mobs with petulant thumbs, Propel slight martyrs, and compel The neutering of timeless springs, And conversion to sporting dreams Of contours’ killas streams, which bear The floods and inundations there, From moor and thorn to tidal care, Where cormorant and kingfisher Debate the estuarial question, While weather carves a judicial stair To bear the stones from mountain lair To lie in broken pieces, shattered there, Brought down and cast by profit Under gavel of a magistrate Mayor? What’s not seen but simply known, Which feeds and teases a timely flow, May be halted, diverted, left for dead To bleach below, and between the walls, Arterial walls of hapless town, The sluicing flow of channel’s dredge, The snake of navigation’s skin Drawn to quays and wheeling leats To keep the drummer’s fragile beats, To stoke the stevedore’s excited cry: ‘Sail! Sail! A cargo from Tolverne!’ And opes amok with harbour’s pride, And beacons set to Solstice burn! O! Trench and pour grey’s clotted slab, Raise the mortgage-makers’ treaty, Pass the pipe, prepare fine words And consume a native’s living prairie – No different, the buffalo’s echo To farming’s picture-book oohs and aahs: Will we halt this advance of engines? Or, starve the Kenwyn to wash the cars?