I drown faintly in a chastised flow,
That washed so many human sins.
A bright moon is scurrying away,
Meadows slipping past like running shoes.
Over uneven lines of a chasing bank,
That now rises and now drops,
Then cuts into stone steps,
That must have been walked a million times,
Now bare and empty.
Paddles slapping lazily in moonshine silvery waters,
Breaking reflections of ceaseless night images.
From figures of leaning cottage windows,
And sulking arches of an abandoned mosque,
I imagine sounds of singing village girls,
Calling for their beloveds to wed,
In struggling heard scarves that hide strands of age.
Those grooms long ago fled across invisible wires,
Chased and maimed by southern wolves.
A shrine perched firmament shines like a candle,
Flooding broken images on my still like tide.
A crescent on the mosque minaret aiming skywards,
Casts long lines attempting to bridge my banks.
Long cast grey shadows in deep alleys,
Turn masked phantoms of drooping trees.
Dark ghosts lurk in bunkers behind smoky chimneys,
While prisoners of the fearful in awakened sleep,
Peep their ears to an imminent march,
Like skittishly timid animals of an iron cage.
Rushes of my water go gurgling,
Like a wailing woman bathing by the abandoned banks,
Or sometimes laughing in the innocence of a child,
Pushing his paper boat to my tidal trust.
Stranger southern accents calling familiar names,
Voices demanding lives ; harsh, rude, brutal, ruthless.
Then pleas ; feeble, faint, frail and helpless.
Some quiet is forced, some huddle coerced,
Brief gunshots, then a long silence.
And then a shrill squall.
In such fearful quietude the night meditates,
Like a medieval saint standing in frigid waters.
And my silence moans like drums of a long battle,
Carrying bosom burials for warriors of the vale.