I am on my knees. Just outside Babylon. The Temple Bar’s neon flashes its morse gospel – O gods of the lowly , etc. The young man turns to me with his familiar. Number 376 to Wells? You won’t believe this – he’s from Toxteth and is a druid! Aghast I be. It’s noisesome being the organizer of experience don’t you find? Something about the Liverpool-Leeds canal footpath? A murder? Or just a free-floating dream memory.

Not like at Batheaston; the trees still haunt the sky among waters, so clear I wept once, wept once again. Then, that day, as I walked honest-to-god as I stand here and is my maker etc I ‘came across’ (like a star chart, did I ‘come across’) a mythic eyeful; to whit, a drunk old fool man fallen in the river with beard and bounce, in trouble to trouble the shifts and fishes, clinging at a root and a shadow trying to sleep; I bent low and it’s all true, that he’s in the river and is drunk old, can you ‘ang on for I can’t save you meself’, as if I could, one drowning too many; and not over the first; so he does and I run and run to the archery field where real men are shooting at a range of circulars and colours and they run and run and we drag him out and he says thanks and walks homeward lost drunk but I follow sideways gravity to keep him upright and riversafe and in the end phone his daughter who comes in a black car and runs and runs and doesn’t thank me and shouts at her dad you drunken bastard and they go off and I am late for my unsuccessful therapy at the end of the towpath.

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