Wendy Klein


© Wendy Klein CCXVI

Narrowboat Wife

in black and white, a future in colour. The clatter of the deck
under his feet, and suddenly he was all poet and dreamer, full
of the river’s moods, the rain, the wind; the colour of the sky;

how first thing in the morning, your hands frozen (not that he
had ever rowed),
the sun just starting to creep to the eye line,
the river that feels like it’s sleeping and you almost
try not

to wake it up…he marvelled,
like an iceberg, nine-tenths
of what you can see is below the water line.
Night after night
in my punishing bunk, I remember his words as I listen

for the plop of water voles, picture their dives to deep burrows,
futile against the sharp-toothed, greedy mink. I wake
to gang wars between cygnets, and worse, to surprise each day

at the ordinariness of our surroundings: couch the same green velour
as the one in the cottage with its cushions of buttoned Kapok,
same pine panelling, cheerful cups on hooks – more cramped,

but still in need of dusting--the ordinariness of retirement made
scarcely different by the river below; its occupations, like marriage,
all to do with rescue and maintenance; swans, voles, pollution.

1st Prize Torriano Competition 2009 - Published in Brittlestar, issue 26