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".