An Eel at Lake Coniston
The night sky blowing westwards,
a quarter moon silvering those star-
swallowing shoals of cloud.
Scents of wet grass bruise underfoot,
sheep bleat across meadows, whispers
smoke from our frozen mouths.
The lake is glimpsed through willows,
lights of the drowned town lapping
on its pewter gleam.
We find the jetty, walk out, lie
down to smell the rot of timber
that sways beneath us as we breathe.
Our torches light up liquid glass
dense with water mites; they
flicker in a sudden electric dawn,
swimming unafraid in its ecstasy.
Then I see it, turning above the gleam
of snagged fishing line, a torque
coiling and uncoiling, an eel, greenish,
finned like a fish but flowing landwards.
From the Sargasso, too deep for nights
or lights, it has swum here to rise
at this instant, its eyes lamping
the reeds for prey.
A rumour, a warning,
a premonition destined
at the water’s broken rim.
You didn’t see it, deny it, yet
want it to slide into the light:
our torch beams search this cold crucible
where I know it moves under us.
Invisible under the town’s reflection,
choosing its element, shy of its own legend
it moves, beautiful as we are now - beautiful
and fierce with hope under this torn sky.