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Ullswater Requiem

1 Dies irae The Anger of the Water

Here's where I stand. I read the lake each day.
Beyond our reach it changes endlessly.
Sometimes it's dark as ice. Sometimes it's broken glass,
sometimes it's metal streaked where boats have passed,
sometimes with ripples regular as sound.
Sometimes it's like a sky: sometimes a pit.
Sometimes it's white capped, rough.
Sometimes there's barely breeze enough
to drown the mirrored image of the trees.
It mirrors all moods, given time.
Today the water's still and black. Call it
sullen if you like. It cannot mind.

And there's a pebble beach that waves have cut
driven by storms against the mountainside.

7 Libera me A Prayer

Let me drop a pebble to that surface
and watch its ripples run out perfect
and see a fish rising from the depths,
a pebble cast by water into sky,
and those two rings meeting, interfering,
intermingling, intersecting but still perfect,
each still unbroken in its way:
a criss-cross message of place and time.

Believe. We shall not be alone whatever
faith we hold or understanding reach.
Hold to it that the circles of our lives
shall in their intersectings bring us peace:
that we shall write ourselves upon the water
and learn to speak the language of the waves.

Mike Smith

(These poems are the first and last sonnets in a sequence recording a drowning tragedy in Ullswater, Cumbria. The full sequence appears on CD: Chelifer 2007).