The Confluence of the Elbe and The Upa

by Matthew Caley

Supposedly, the
cool silver birch bole barely
two hips width shudders
like a woman on the brink
of believing in her man

They are two rivers
running into each other
clarities fusing
fast — where Coldharbour Lane runs
out into Camberwell Green

As the confluence of The
Elbe and The Upa

So, no matter that
bane-flower proliferate
cinquefoil and cress
or silt build scum upon scum
still they run on — sieve-panned and

as prospectors bent
for what wild seam of beryl
or jasper, jet-streamed,
jade, might yet convert sandstone
pummelled into submission

two rivers, one back
spine-glint as a string of bulbs
two Pilsner Urquelles
kinked, its quartz-strewn gravel beds
groan as the waters withdraw

I, fly, later slipped
The Ritzy and Rialton Road
to smoke the cool lips
off Bastheba, her moon-washed
awry re-aligned tank-top

overlap of leaf
against leaf, veined light, networked
long-legged fly floats
arced, stilt-stance on garlic bulbs
stippling estuarial banks

found a copy of
Roy Fisher’s The Down Low Drop
in the gutter out-
side of Bookmongers, leaf-mulch
sailboat headed elsewhere or

As the confluence of The
Elbe and The Upa

them sank in couch-grass
dew-nipped, swollen, bare-assed, blocked
tributary where
shyness meets shyness and forms
a pane of glass.  Breath.  Swipe.  Swipe.

His sly cigarette
Her furtive stretch for a book
— nipple-smudge night-smock —
Milan Kundera’s Slowness
Modernism gone, with it

The confluence of The Elbe
and of The Upa