The Slip, deep winter

in
shockoe,
foul waters run
downhill, trickle-drip
through cobbles like
tears on stony
cheeks.

canal-shadows
lie like fog ink
in the footprints
of the devil’s half acre,
glutted with the browns
of swollen January.

the river dreams of escape.
seabirds cry grey laments,
the beating of their winterwings
stirring blighted hope
as they careen homeward, away,

and,
for the first time,
i am
afraid
to walk the water-paths
alone.

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