Weir Kisses

Where a laggard canal met Old Father
Thames sat a dingy rowing club on an
island that was formed by an engineer
& God’s whimsies [they did not confer]

& there a glaucous hue nudged slowed
waters – tension-rich against knot-held
cruisers [alongside duck-slipped banks]
as summer’s laziness bred oily algae – a
foul air brewed by stilled combinations

Escape was met where her fetid canal’s
waters spewed – I watched it cascading
twenty yards away – feeding a dragging
Thames – falling into dignified currents –

where I was led [unshod] over that weir
[it was my slick balancing act] by a fleet-
footed girl [who I only knew by sight] as
my bare toes trod a water-cooled edge
[as much as they could] & she stuck me

against a tree – my spine then stiffened
putting our faces equal – I was set aside
on that other run-off island & there she
kissed me with her warm explications –

I was a comprehensive-schooled lad in
a crew at that club – I was bow-stuck in
a heavy eight [a clinker-built craft] such
was our lot/ In that oar-rattled boat we
lost against private schoolboys [in their

cock-smooth-vessel]/ Our lock keeper
[who lived for flows] was a genial man
who put up with our seven AM Sunday
rattles of bikes over his metal bridge –

we were at an irking age [but meant no
harm] – I assume living as a lock keeper
calls for thick skin/ Her kiss? It was light
as it lipped on lips – she sealed to tight –
& I could feel her ribs rub mine/ I’m still

in her breaths/ Was I a fool’s dare [one
her friends put on her?]/ I found out a
kissing place – a push-to urgency/ I will
visit it again [one hot day] in bare feet