Poem 147 – November Walk

Four pm. November walk along
The Lea, the light is fading fast and all
Is dim. Like children’s plasticine the colours
Merge, the palate turns to shades of brown.
The sky blends with the gently lapping waters.
By naked trees who’ve shed, their colours bleed.
The air is mute, its voice is muffled, dull,
Only the Christmas lights dare interject.
From bankside windows, hope defiant flickers.

To end a period of Covid isolation, I took a walk along the River Lea this afternoon. I’ll never get bored of how the same stretch of water changes throughout the year. I didn’t think to take a photo, this one is from the same time last year, towards the river.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 90 – The River

It was cold that night
Was there snow?
Or was it frost?
I don’t recall
We walked along the river
You wore many layers
To keep out the chill
I laughed as later
You unpeeled them
Defrosting in the pub
We went out
Starting as friends
But by the time
We’d reached the end
An unspoken change
Had occurred
We paused. I spoke it
Should we add
Another couple
To the list?
You said yes
We held hands
You couldn’t see but
I was smiling
It’s funny how walks
Can be so significant
A sideways step
Into a space
To reflect
To be and to grow
Soon after that
We went on another
Again you said yes
Or at least
I think you did
You certainly
Smothered me
Down on my knees
By the Thames
Again we emerged
Once more transformed
There have been many
More walks since then
As now we explore
Life’s bubbling stream
Of chaotic rapids
And lazy eddies
And I still enjoy
Unpeeling the layers
That make up you

A poem for Valentine’s day.

© Ben Quant 2022

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