To Charm A River by Bob Beagrie

To Charm A River

Toss a pebble so it skims
the ripples once, twice,
three times
before it drops
to sink to stir her
from her bed,
scatter grass and daisies
across galvanised eddies
where sunlight glistens
and when she turns
on a tidal shift
ask her politely
to come to tea.

Go home and wait
patiently for when
and if she arrives
you will recognise her
as your Great Aunt Peg
from your Nana’s photos
wearing a swan feather bonnet
a weed green coat
a seal pelt shawl pinned
by a broach of jet, her breath
will be full of foxgloves.

She will flow
through the house
taking a path of least resistance,
under the surface of her skin
semi translucent,
shifting like rain in puddles
are pot dogs on a window sill
old nuts, washers, bolts, chains
from broken hoists,
from derailed trolleys.

Threatening to spill
beyond her edges she will settle
in a chair, slurp her tea, nibble cake,
reminisce about her headlong rush
from Crossfell toward the Gares,
tumbling between eroded rocks
the leap of High Force,
the turns and twists
through tangled woods,
the brush of boats,
the scrape of ships –
of fish and tadpoles,
dragonflies, a heron’s beak,
sun-clouds of midges, the dip
and drip of a water wheel
and how once upon a while
folk would worship her
for the life and death
she brought before we thought
we’d tamed her seasonal swell.

Her voice will splash
and babble on, lap-lapping
against your consciousness
lulling you into sleep
and when you wake,
she’s gone
leaving soppy footprints
across the kitchen floor.

Bob Beagrie, 2015
Commissioned by Tees Valley Arts and performed for the first time by Bob Beagrie at the River Tees Rediscovered VIP Launch.

TVA is a participatory arts organisation, based in Middlesbrough and working across the Tees Valley, helping people change and improve their lives by taking part in the arts. TVA is a small organisation which makes a big impact in imaginative and unexpected ways.