Robert Nisbet




Swollen River

Suddenly bright, after mid-December murk,
a shopping centre Saturday. Rhodri,
writing a piece for his newspaper,
Christmas Commercialised,
notes first of all, and more than anything,
that lovely swollen river, racing its course between
the shopping streets, in whirls and eddies,
spits and surges. Rain has come down from the fields
for weeks now. Tides have been high.

Rhodri has reached the shops armed with clichés.
He expected the ringing of the cash register,
gets in fact the whirr and purr of the card machines.
In the wine shop, Jenny serves him
but the bell and tassel on her Santa’s cap
hang without enthusiasm. She will serve wine
till six, when Darren will collect her,
then they’ll bicker a path round Tesco.
Rhodri meets the Harrieses. Twenty per cent off,
says Mister H, is eighty per cent still on.
In his notebook Rhodri scribbles wry humour.

Many others shop. There are deals and bargainings
but sometimes there are such draughts of weariness.
(Just outside Boot’s, a surge of swollen water
slaps on the old quay wall).

Now the sky is lit by the colours of four o’clock,
blue into grey and back to blue.
Rhodri folds his pad away while,
mentally subterranean,
the river swells in its December beauty
beneath them all, beneath them all.


Robert Nisbet had a short story in the recent anthology Story II (Parthian) and his poetry has been recently accepted by The Frogmore Papers, The Interpreter’s House, Turbulence, Obsessed with Pipework and online in London Grip and Snakeskin.

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