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featured poet, Moira Merryweather

Moira Merryweather


I can’t slake the Severn’s thirst
with bore-hole or Welsh water,
no more than I can stop
the tidal waves of bathers
who, needing to cool-off, strip, leap
like stampeding wildebeest
into fluid oozing with effluent
and never a word from you in Kurdistan.
If you drink from a spring
shaded by a fig tree
you would feel younger, more loving…

but while shapes of buildings
from Shrewsbury to Gloucester
mirage in and out of sight
I don’t know if you are alive to care;
there’s still no word from you in Kurdistan.
When spirochaete death
is reported, Britons are warned
not to swim in rivers, streams,
the Malverns spark, flicker, burn
and every cricket pitch turns to brown.
My hair reverts to blond again,
skin colours up like ripe dates
but nights are filled with sweat-terrors
hearing of bullets ricocheting
into mosque, shop, child, traveller
and the reservoirs writhe
with gasping fish
and petri-dishes colonise
with rising numbers
of pathogens in the River Severn
all the way from Craig Goch to Chepstow
while your face fades, your voice is silent in Arbil.
The lines quoted are by Gene Burns, ‘The Stuff of Myths’, The Atlantic, 1999

Moira Merryweather

first published in South 34, 2006