I dreamt last night that you were with me
and we walked along that path leading to the river and the ferry across.
(do you remember the ferry?)
It was summer, or so it seemed,
and the air was heavy & hot.
The sky was blue, cloudless, except for distant flecks of white.
Insects and small birds shared the air
— I’m sure I saw a dragonfly, iridescent blue/green
hovering over a flowering thistle
The path we walked was as I remembered it;
narrow and hedged on each side
by waist high wild plants & flowers – blue and white, some blood red,
green, alive, hosting many flying fauna that buzzed and flitted
from bloom to bloom.
But interspersed among the verdant growths were
angry-thorned wild roses, nettles
and the dark brown and black of dying flora.
I wanted to hold your hand but the nettles and harsh-thorned plants
grabbed at our clothes and gashed bare skin.
So we plodded single-file, not talking;
I knew you were behind me but had to keep turning round to be sure.
It felt as though we had been walking for an eternity
until rounding a bend in the path,
we saw the river in the near distance.
Blue-green-still, dappled by sunlight,
its surface broken by occasional movements
from creatures beneath.
As we drew close the to river’s edge and the grey wooden jetty,
I noticed the buzzing insects and flying birds had ceased their aerobatics;
there was silence, not even the gentle lapping of water against the riverbank.
Looking across to that distant bank it seemed blurred and indistinct;
an eerie mist hovered at that far shore.
There was a brass bell atop a post standing at the back of the jetty,
aged and stained.
You came to my side and took my hand but spoke no words.
I reached out to ring the bell but you squeezed my hand.
I looked to you and your eyes were fearful.
Shaking your head, you mouthed ‘No!’
I nonetheless reached up and grabbed the cord tied to the striker
and rang the bell.
Three times I did this.
But no a sound was made.
The silence was heavy now & looking skyward I realised dusk had crept upon us.
I looked out at the river and the mist that moments before
had been at the distant shore was now edging towards us.
The air chilled suddenly and in the silence
I could hear my heart pounding in my ears.
Your hand still clasped mine; it was clammy, cold.
I looked at you but your eyes were drawn to that distant river’s edge
And the mist that crept towards us.
I strained too to see into the approaching brume and saw a yellow light
in the now black, starless darkness around us.
It appeared to be hanging in the air.
Moments later, a small boat loomed from the mist,
the light bobbing on a spar at its prow.
And the ferryman, thrusting his pole into the green-dark depths of the river,
tall, thin, indistinct in the half light.
Silently the boat came to rest at the end of the jetty.
The ferryman caught my eye: I do not recall his face,
it was as though it was devoid of features.
He raised an arm and gestured towards us.
You pulled your hand from mine.
I looked at you but your eyes were locked on the ferryman.
He gestured again and you turned to me, smiled, and walked onto the jetty.
I wanted to reach out to you but I was frozen, paralysed.
I tried to speak but could not form any words.
In a few steps you were at the end of the jetty and stepped onto the boat;
it didn’t rock, almost as though you were as weightless as the mist around it.
I tried to call out to you but again no words came out.
You turned to me then.
Your eyes were sad.
You touched your hand to your heart then turned away.
The boat began to move away, back into the brume
and was soon lost to the night …