Waterway poetry trail

Winston Plowes   A child lies in the Boatman’s bed and all the signs of sleep are on her. Buried by the covers from the Thursday market, heaped on, safe under. She falls short of the pillows and roots down to make a depression, a nest, and lies flatter as Sweat gathers on her arms, cheeks, back, face. Long ginger… Read more

Eileen Wright   I carry it with me the sound of time in flowing water   unfinished symphony channelled by humanity subtle reverberance   I only knew I missed when I’d left far behind that street near the dark lock gates   that current flowing through this artery of canal almost discreet   except in fierce weather or like my… Read more

Sarah Broscombe   Early awaken in a hazy mazy dawn, a lazy grey with the silence stirred only by swans’ wings and a distant lock’s leaks drumming.   Don’t disturb him. I set the engine low thrumming. The bank eases back, glides to a vanish. The swans chase, hiss, race, then rise and run and beat water and air to… Read more

Arthur Marshall  The lyrics of Arthur’s song about the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct a navigable aqueduct that carries the Llangollen Canal over the valley of the River Dee.   Well the summer sun is shining through the summer showers We’re in Wales so there’s always rain around And we’re heading through the bridges at about three miles an hour Lord, its a… Read more

Stephen Anderson   The crowd gathering Will not be held at the gate   Flow-stemmed water Secures the paddle for a while   Klaxon releases The hungry tumult   Irresistible, impatient rush Sprays into the lock   Lamplight observes Boot-splashed pavement   Heron stands In still testimony   Quarry Canal And list not the town’s dis-quiet Blades-flash buttercup Gutter sustains… Read more

Anne Caldwell   You staccato along the far bank from ash branch to willow branch. You’re a snapshot ahead from Luddenden to Brampton. You skim the water in the winter light, turquoise thrumming at sync speed. You’re darting across the towpath. I catch sight of a russet breast and dagger-beak. You zig-zag into silver birch, down to the Calder river…. Read more

Steven Mellor   Sitting on the Burnley road, set to please the locals or the white-van-man, maybe more than any other can. The finest fish fillets, fresh from the Pacific, trawled by pacifists. The freshest fish, breadcrumbed, never battered, lovingly fried in vegetable oil. Sea-salt sparingly scattered, organic vinegar gently splattered. Served, with a smile, in recycled paper bags, and… Read more

John Siddique   Wooden gates hold back the black ribbon, slow progress. Where are you going?   John Siddique is the author of six books, the most recent of which is Full Blood. His work has featured in many places, including Granta, The Guardian, Poetry Review and BBC RADIO4. The Spectator refers to him as ‘A stellar British poet’. www.johnsiddique.co.uk

Gaia Holmes   As she walked along the towpath she felt as if she were on the edge of discovery. She wondered what would happen if she tripped and fell in. Would the canal water develop her like a photograph, brighten her colours, sharpen her edges, show the world the crystal chandeliers glittering in her brain?

Genevieve Walsh   Meet me by the water. Let’s remember. Let’s forget. Let’s stare into the murky depths, let’s praise a mass of surging, off-colour beauty. It’ll outlive us, this thing, but life hasn’t beaten us yet.   Consider the people who’ll see this once we’re figments, once we’re fragments. Consider their romantic moments as they sit by this canal…. Read more