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Cold water steams
mist envelops the towpath
a fog of wood-smoke curls
from stove-pipe chimneys.

Two mallards skim the water
skate to a halt.

Through the mist someone shouts, sale
bow-waves fan backwards
wash pilings, discount iron and stone.

Hawsers trail from coal barges, sickness
narrow-boat breakfast smells
hold the air,
a horse crosses the Turnover Bridge.

By the lock water swirls, eddies
a deep turbulence;
there is a confusion of time
lost in mist speared by sunlight.

Gulls swoop,
cogs rattle,
past and present meet in dreams,
reflections of willows, water,
the laughter of children
down where the Lido stood,
draped in absorbing echoes of time.

For The Beeston Flood Defence Wall Project 2006