Dead Dogs & Damselflies.
A canal runs through our town.
A canal stays in our town
is the real truth.
Opaque green and stagnant, licking the red-bricked
cotton mills, ever calm and enduring.
Deaf to the constant clatter of the looms,
like the generations of lip-readers
who spun and weaved,
like organised spiders,
to catch a pittance.
A small pole-pushed barge
and crew of three removed the dogs
and things that this canal liked to collect.
They’d let us on after school
to hunt for rats, or to listen to
tales of bloated corpses that exploded;
from Sundy morning bridges,
or that monster pike prowling the basin.
There were always the men on wicker baskets,
sawdusty maggots, groundbait and keep-nets.
Grumbling miserables who’d curse the barges,
tell us to shut the fuck up
because we scared the fish -
which seemed to prefer floating on their sides
most of the time.
They cleaned it up once.
(damselflies moved in!)
Water clean enough to show the sky.
It couldn’t last.