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'The Thames', Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy©

History as water, I lie back, remember it all.
You could say I drink to recall; run softly
till you end your song. I reflect. There was a whale
in me; a King's daughter livid in a boat.
A severed head
fell from its spike, splashed.
There was Fire
birds flailed in me with burning wings –
Ice – a whole ox roasting where I froze, frost fair –
Fog – four months sunless, moonless, spooked by ships –
Flood – I flowed into Westminster Hall
where lawyers rowed in wherries, worried –
Blitz – the sky was war; I filmed it. Cut.
I held the Marchioness.

My salmon fed apprentices
until I choked on sewage; my foul breath
shut Parliament.
There was lament
at every stroke of every oar
which dragged the virgin's barge downstream.
Always bells; their timed sound, somewhen,
in my tamed tides, deep.
Caesar named me.
I taste the drowned.
A Queen sails now into the sun, flotilla
a thousand proud;
my dazzled surface gargling the crown.

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