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Photo of Lock 1

ST JOHN'S LOCK

Lock gates close

Cold water effuses; sluices
from another level
wells inwards as a translucent rush,
it surges upwards, beats, bubbles,
engulfs a chamber
of mortar, bricks, wood, rust.

Effortlessly
motor launches and moored cruisers
are borne aloft,
they wallow creating ripples
as hydraulic forces force the issue;
nothing spectacular
just a small occurrence
to confuse the senses
of those who dream of higher levels.

Humans are spared the violence of the undertow
at the riverbed and sluice entrance,
a maelstrom where sediment flows
as viscous sludge, a cloudy dredge
where trout, perch, roach and rudd
endure the pull of the rising flood,
to cautiously touch and taste nutrients
through various sensory protrusions,
they imbibe things dead and alive
parts of par, roe and ruff
and suspended plant detritus, particulate matter
the disturbance whirls in vortex rings;
only the occasional gleam from a fish scale
denotes the underwater gale;

Photo of Lock 2

then liquid becomes clear, calm and still
until lock-gates close
to bridge the hill.

DAVID PIKE


St. John's Lock at Lechlade on the river Thames the first of 47 Thames locks, (closest to the source and at the beginning of the navigable river).

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This page last updated: 13th November 2006.