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Angela France: a poem

Water Mark

Water geysers from the road, tarmac humped

and cracked as if pushed up by tree roots over years.

It gushes muddily down the road, bubbles

over gutter-dams of twigs and leaves, splits on a bend

to follow the camber, denies the road its definition.

The woman at the water board's Leak Line

wants to know the name of the road

and I say it doesn't have one. I could tell her

how the road rises from the town, leaving

streetlights and street names behind,

how it is a road to somewhere or from

elsewhere, how it is a place between.

I could tell her how often I have followed

the road to climb the hill for consolation or comfort,

for exercise or delight. I could tell her how often

I have managed its bends, driving in a hurry

or not, or how the land drops away

from the road edge, looks over

the flickering clutter of the town at night.

She says she can't send a crew without a post code

for the stretch of road or a house nearby.

I could tell her I know that old sycamore, leaning

over a crumbling wall or how this bend tightens

if you come down the hill too fast. There are houses

backing into the hillside, hidden behind trees

and shrubs, stately gateposts by the road

with blurred names carved

into lichened stone, no numbers.

I tell her they can follow the water, track

up the streams from where the road leads

into town, past street names and houses

with post codes. The water knows where it is.

Previously published in The Honest Ulsterman. Angela France is a Gloucestershire poet who has had poems published in many of the leading journals and has been anthologised a number of times. Her latest collection, The Hill, was developed into a live multi-media poetry show which Angela toured, funded by Arts Council England. Her next collection, Terminarchy, is due out from Nine Arches in Summer 2021. Angela teaches creative writing at the University of Gloucestershire and in various community settings. She runs a reading series in Cheltenham called "Buzzwords".


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