[Once in Derbyshire]
Once in Derbyshire, along the Derwent
Between the millstone grit of Hathersage
And the whorl-pocked stone of Grindleford,
I came upon a tributary twenty feet across,
No bridge, but ten small stones
Angled, worn smooth, no guarantee
Of stability, no surety of foothold.
And I, poor balancer, poised on
The nether bank, in fear somewhat
Of walking fifteen miles in sodden clothes
(My record to that date, water emerging fully clothed
Had been but three, all on the trot).
At least the odds were known, not sudden death,
Small chance of drowning, self destruction.
Behind me was the morning’s walk,
The stone and shingle, sand and rough grass
The run down through the woods of silver birch and pine,
To the river, smooth, in the dark shades of alder and beech,
In front, promise, expectancy and hope.
Half way across, my world, as in a freed hinged mirror
Turned upon me, only my heart, moving out of place
Secured some balance, and a leap, wild and reckless
Heaving the body clear with a last toe hold,
Flung in fearful flight my palpitating breast
Upon the further side, slithering in pebbles,
Moss and weeds.