Poem 40 – From the New River to Top Field

We begin by strolling along the New River, ‘London’s Tap’,
Ponderously supplying the city’s water under hungover skies.
Passing a bridge that goes nowhere reclaimed by ivy,
Dry curled sycamore leaves form a path along the bank,
Protecting boots from the damp clogging clay beneath.
Today the water is dark and heavy, rolling slowly.
We look for our swans to feed but today they are absent,
Only cocky mallards traverse her dulled waters,
Even they seem subdued and stilled.
As we leave our watery guide we pass construction works,
Homes rising like the scattered oak saplings espied,
Emerging from squirrel scattered acorns perhaps.
Indeed other than us, they are the only ones moving,
Fattened, scurrying to prepare for winter hibernation,
Whilst diggers stand stationary and sites are vacant.
Perpendicular to her flow we rise from Lea Valley,
Reaching Top Field whose spectacular wildflower meadows,
Have been mown, leaving damp stalks and pregnant potential.
The dip becomes clear as we look across to the parallel rise beyond.
Departing, a momentarily surprise, a snatch of distant urbanity,
The towers of Canary Wharf winking their warning.
It seems astonishing that our haven is so near.
Leaving their gaze behind we enter Bell Lane’s woods,
A contrasting lightness, a gaiety absent before,
Leaves, sweetcorn and peas, speckling silver birch skies.
Exiting, our path crosses a field where bedraggled horses munch,
And an S shaped brook snakes between its mounds.
Momentarily they lift their necks to consider as we pass.
Back down Church Lane descending into Wormley,
Peace again broken as we return above the thundering A10.
Passing the sports club we transition from pastoral to people,
Navigating between parents’ cars parked on the verge,
Delivering budding footballers as they grasp hand warming coffees.
What views they have missed by arriving cocooned in these cabins!
Finally, the New River again lies at our feet, ready to guide us home.

Most of our daily walks involve the River Lea to the east of us, but sometimes, we take wander by the New River to the west, cut to deliver London’s water.

© Ben Quant 2021

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