They cut the water. Bent it from meanders
to turn mill wheels, beckoned it from the beck
to run a rigid course. Tamed, apparently,
it licked the soot from honey-shaded stones.
Like factory hands, it only stopped in corners
where it could hear no orders, shelter moss.
Today foundations crumble underfoot.
Ahead, security fences take a nap,
loll on their backs and rust. A square,
tilting towards the forgotten goit
and framed by wide-eyed dereliction
might be where magic starts. Shreds of green;
seeds, spores, windblown dust. Roots
tougher than tarmac. One or two summers,
a scatter of thistle. Ragwort. A storm.
Rain runs to this future. Takes blackened spaces
back. Winds sift warehouses to tilth.
Summer grass sways and stretches, conjures gold.
• This poem first appeared in The Linnet’s Wings.