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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In Search of the Tenderer Thorns

Wait for the change in the tide where the Ouse meets the Trent and the Humber is born. Sound your foghorn once and slip down the jetty, where a tethered goat flicks its ears in the breeze and skitters a volley of piss in your general direction. These parishes, their runnelled fields all alluvial warping and tillage, secrete their tidal glue round your feet, and the scabby-legged cockerels in the bend of the road have spied you, Phrygian caps a red shock of sedition. Follow them twice round the mulberry bush and into the churchyard: follow the late poet squire of Yokefleet’s cigarette tip in the distance like a will o’ the wisp across the ‘fructuant marsh’, and stumble into the arms of a barman out beating the bushes on pressgang duty for the Tuesday night darts team. Stand everyone at the Hope & Anchor a drink, and that grass, that mistcircled grass on the dyke, cock an ear for its whisper under the jukebox and the farm dog barking half a mile down the road. Have you come about the interview for church warden, someone will ask. Are you that pigfeed salesman, someone will ask. No pigs around here, or hadn’t you noticed. Plenty of moles though. Match on tonight then? That island out in the estuary, what is its name, the island out where the freighters pass and the avocet dips and wades: it’s a trick of perspective, you’re on the island, you’re in the nature reserve, you’re already drifting out to sea with the estuary mud; there is no island and never was, the goat has progressed to chewing its tail, you slip back on board, sound the foghorn again and disappear into the chaos beyond the last high tide. And a couple of pound coins in the change, love, for the condom machine in the jakes, and a packet of crisps. Where the Ouse meets the Trent and the Humber is born, that swaying grass, that mistcircled grass.

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