‘When the river’s volume is greatly increased, it spreads out for a certain number of days, flooding the whole of the country…’
(Pliny Natural History Book V 54)
For weeks now it has rained at four o’clock.
The river’s skin has swelled and in the towns
There is the smell of sewage, the odd dead dog.
At night I dream of waking up to find
My bed balanced on a gable, or church spire,
While below me London gasps and swims.
I am frightened of this tropical rain,
That drubs down so hard it hurts your head,
And of the sea-level rising, changing the maps.
Yesterday an albatross was seen near Pudsey
And the twitchers came in creaking rowboats
From as far afield as Hay-on-Wye.
Today a shoal of red fish fell on Solihull.
Cars plough bow waves through the rushing streets
And armies stack up sandbags in defence.
Soon the seas will surely flood themselves
And I will applaud the passage down the Thames
Of icebergs big as churches, blue as robin’s eggs.