A BROWSE through the backwaters of Cameron Self’s Literary Norfolk website always produces something interesting. Like this poem entitled Reedham Mashes. It was written by Edwin Brock (pictured) on his experiences of being stranded aboard a cruiser. Brock was that rare thing - a policeman-poet. He died in 1997 and is rather better known for Five Ways to Kill a Man and Song of a Battery Hen. But this poem is excellent too.
They say the water's salt here
as though the North Sea's fingers
are at our belly, tickling us like trout.
Dozy from blue and bottle-green,
we wallow in each passing wash
like a long drunk on a hot Saturday.
The reeds sigh and part as we enter them,
then zip us up behind like some
silk Sargasso It is an old fantasy.
Sick from a seized engine, we sit
in this sanctuary of seabirds where
at night the crocodiles slip from holes
in their reed bed to jostle us
like hissing logs; and we confuse
the red rising moon with its setting sun.
Now no longer water-borne we drift
on this night mist which dreams us:
there are sharp cries, quiet splashes
and the voices of fishermen in an old pub
where a hand pours a White Shield Worthington
as clear as a bell and without a hint of mud.
Anyone who has ever been enveloped by reeds (that’s me in a canoe, and usually involuntarily) will know that “zipped up” feeling very well. Perhaps now I know it’s a “silk Sargasso” I won’t find it so eerie. There’s much more like this at Literary Norfolk.