She sits by the river and the river is still
Flat and strangely calm under the
Strangling mists.

It’s not the weather for sitting beside the river
But still she sits in the November chill.
And all the while her breath steaming around her
Turns the air white.

There’s no breeze, and so it stagnates there
A woeful plume, reminding her that she did
Live once, and she remembers it well, when
The river below her crashed and raced
In a frenzy of spray as it leapt down the weir.

Oh what it was then to be alive, and to hear the song
Of the water, before life forgot her,
She remembers it all, running over the bridge
Across the river, she can hear even now the way
Her shoes met the cobbles, and how her ankles
Twisted as she tried to run, but she felt no pain.

It was all excitement back then
Because there was a hope in her heart and the
River ran along with it, furious and frenetic,
How glorious it was to love, and to be loved,
And it was as if the river knew, as if it understood.

The river would go along with her to wherever this journey
Took her, and that was why then it now sloped
Pooling regret, she had chased her love and pursued it
Until it perished, and the river knew, the river knew,
And now it was welcoming her, inviting her in
And she was sitting no longer but standing
At the brink, the bank, the boundary
Between hope and desolation, and the mists,
Still the mists around her did not lift.

They hung in the sky and the sky ached
And when she looked up to try to spy the sun
It was veiled, hidden away, and when
She listened she could hear the gentle trickle
Of the river, it seemed to be moving away
Although it fell down the weir like pooling lava
Slow and turgid in its liquid advance, but
Deadly in its embrace.

Perhaps that’s what the river wanted
Her to fall into its arms, because she could not
Be in his. It had been calling to her all of this time
Waiting for her, it would not go away, no never,
And so she slipped down the bank, and felt
The coolness of the water as it spread through her
And then she looked up, and there was a glimmer,
The sun was back, and she turned away from the
River, but the river was stronger than she
It had caught up with her finally
The touch she had yearned for all those years
And now he sits on the bench beside the bank
His eyes brimming with half spent tears.

Rose Staveley-Wadham