Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Great Canal 2016

by Pat Sutherland Oct16

Three centuries of winding water,
sullied from the start,
coal-black, rust-red, sliding from
Bowling to Grangemouth,
Clyde to Forth;
floating coal, moving iron,
flanked by foundries
mills and breweries,
slaking Glasgow's thirst
at Port Dundas,
swelling industry and Scotland's trade.

A passage to adventure
for tall ships,
to servitude
for ragged humanity
transported  from The Butney,
a hellish highway
to the world's end.

Time flowed;
industry and profits grew                                                               
and would not wait
for barges, bound
to a horse's pace;
steam and power
outran the narrow boats,
sequestered by the train.

A century forsaken,
the Great Canal,
beneath black tenements
lay stagnant, silted,
a cesspool of beer cans,
its margins overspread
with swarming weeds,
till with the third millenium
came restoration.

Bulldozers scooped up sludge and trash,
scalpeled out a tiny heartbeat;
a trickle sprang and danced
into a rill,
a living, flowing course,
a waterway.

Today on Peccadillo
we motor slowly
past autumn corridors;
vivid leaves paint the surface,
fiery splashes on reflected clouds.
Willows droop and birches shiver,
A patient heron watches from the reeds,
coot and moorhen paddle by our bows.

Here in the ancient city,
a cycle of centuries
rolled full circle,
Nature is honoured again.

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