Quaggy: hidden behind back gardens and privet.
Brickwalled, low. A road over which rivulets
Quietly slide inches deep. Culverted,
A sluice. A ditch to pitch the stolen bicycle,
Scoured and vacuum-sucked by tractors in autumn.
But while we looked away, below the station,
The grey-backed bobbing birds have come to stay.
The balance on bricks, pick the debris, chatter safely
Shaded by buddleia; run along its concrete rim;
Occupy their own secluded mountain stream.
And in the upturned shopping trolley
The mitten crabs raise woolly claws,
Wait for rainstorms, are flung towards the Thames,
Shed their skins that float on foam and confluence,
Then scurry uphill home to lurk in drains.
Paint and oil gutters in -
Slicks, sticks, dilutes, decays.
Summer comes. The lime trees drip their glue and greenflies.
Ducks swim by from parks to ponds. Seeds, butterflies,
Are carried from woodland to wasteland. And we pass by.
Winner of the adult River of Words competition.
To read the winning adult story from the River of Words competition, visit the National Maritime Museum.