How to hold back, how to let go
One time, at the farm, we had a craze for building dams;
at the farthest point of the bottom pastures,
in a little valley, shaded amongst a few trees,
we chose the perfect spot, away from adult eyes.
The beck here chattered shallowly over stones,
the far bank sloping up high to the skyline;
the near bank was low, but steep and overhanging,
perfect for making the turfs we needed.
We worked so hard, stamping at the edge of the bank,
making the indents of our heels deeper and deeper,
till the piece of turf dislodged, soil attached beneath,
and we humped it over to the line of the dam.
We built it up slowly, turf on stone, turf on turf;
cleverly we left a gap in the middle for the beck to flow through,
to give us time to build up the rest high enough;
a long time we spent, in boy time, but satisfying.
When all was ready we collected a final load of turfs,
then quickly, excitedly, heroically, we filled the gap;
we had dammed the beck, we had stopped the flow;
downstream started to empty, upstream to fill up.
Filling up was slow, and, hungry, we went back for dinner
spiced by the secret knowledge of the changes on the beck;
rushing back down afterwards, we found a lengthening pool
edging its way to the top of the dam, the great moment near.
The letting go, ah, the letting go:
the jumping down into the empty stream bed,
the dislodging of a few turfs in the middle,
the start of flow,
the leaping out on to the bank,
the flow increasing,
the weight of water suddenly rushing,
gouging instantly a gaping gap,
the surge, the final flood,
the wall of brown water,
racing down stream,
small boys running alongside on the bank
trying to catch every detail,
before it all dissipated.
And afterwards, returning slowly to the dam,
we surveyed what was left, began again,
collecting scattered turfs from the stream bed.
We had a craze for building dams, and letting go.