I also love to walk in places that are new to me, although it's rare that I come back with a poem or even the idea for a poem waiting to be written. This is probably because I'm on alert on these walks, taking every detail in. I find new experiences take a while to percolate through my mind and into the subconscious reservoir of images that can be used later.
I was outraged that the entire primary school, including my elder sister, went to see it being opened by the Queen, with the exception of the pupils in the two Reception classes, which included me. For some reason, our teachers didn't want to take 80 tots, whose sum experience of school amounted to less than a week, on a school trip involving traffic, water, royalty, and acres of mud. Can't think why.
This time I knew what I wanted to see: the ferry terminal where 25-year-old Bob Dylan was photographed by Barry Feinstein just four months before the pomp of the royal opening, at a famously pivotal
point in the history of both the Severn and rock music. I also knew that I wanted to write a poem about these twin disruptions and their very different outcomes: Bob's star has never waned, despite the controversy of his decision to abandon solo acoustic songs and gigs, but the original (and most beautiful) Severn bridge has been supserseded by its younger sibling three miles downstream, and it's now quite quiet at Aust even though the M48 is hanging 445 feet above your head.
There was a poem there too. In the end it was a heron that helped me find it (though not this one).
Like the Severn heron, who flew off across the river, the poem also headed for Wales and the 2019 Welsh Poetry Competition, where it was highly commended in fourth place.
Bob Dylan waits for the ferry at Aust
The tide is so far out it’s over the horizon.
You are far out too, dressed in black and wearing shades
against the quibbling English rain
Electric Dylan, stalking the slipway
hands in pockets, shoulders hunched
your feathers ruffled
waiting for the ferry to tie up at the pier
your back to the river, facing land
while I frown, trying to work out where you’re standing
but the wooden café’s rotted, gone,
the moorings silted up with mud,
the turnstile entrance to the Gents rusted shut.
Even the bridge being built behind you
replacing this passage of two thousand years
is underused now, left to drift among the clouds
as the warth fills up with rising water
and a heron straggles into flight,
turns and trails its spindling legs across the Severn.
©Deborah Harvey 2019