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Poetry Pleases: Canal And Wharf

Jean Cowgill's poem highlights the contrasts between the old and thenew in London.

An empty bird-cage,
door ajar, swings
to the pulse of boat.
Wife-crafted hearts,
painted so long ago
remnants of a sweet life.
Smart barge refurbished
each winter in dry-dock
when time hangs heavy.
Owen Hale navigates
as did ancestors in 1852.
A pedestrian pace suits Owen.
He watches a swan
sit on designer reeds;
she turns, coughs a warning.
Moorhens explore pathways
with earnest darting moves
like shoppers bargain-hunting.
Mallards form a ménage a trois.
Over the boat flies a heron;
this pre-historic craft,
is heard from afar
steady beating wings
all elbows and angles.
Does Owen think of tea,
home comforts and lost wife?
Maybe he recalls being
triumphant in ‘Aunt Sally’
at ‘The Navigator’s Arms’.
In truth he worries about
market forces, capital gains
and a sinking, leaden pound.
On Monday morning at first light
he will swop belt and corduroy
for braces and pin-stripe suit.
Exchange the West Midlands
for London’s Canary Wharf.


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