Zouch. Narrow Boats, yarrow
and white campion. The Rose
and Crown states Welcome Back’
but there’s no sign of life. We cross over
the footbridge to the field so the dogs
can have a run while there’s no cows.
I sit on the bank, watch a trio of sand
martins feed their young: the nests–
holes in the Cut’s concrete reinforcement,
near the lock. They fly over me in formation,
like a Red Arrows’ display.
Mallard ducklings, nearly adult. Wood pigeon
in a tree. Black headed gull overhead.
Thirty seven geese in a row by The Soar
jump into the water as Polly nears.
Traffic racket from the A6 unceasing.
Purple spikes of loosestrife, forget-me-not
round its base. I spot an empty plastic bottle,
then another, and another. Soon, a pile forms.
‘I can’t carry all this’ I say. Rob walks back
to the car, returns with a large Tesco bag.
We fill it to the brim. Cans, bottles, wrappers,
ropes, things you wouldn’t wish to touch.
I find a blue ball for Buster so all is not lost.
We haul the bag back, along with black
plastic sheeting, pause to chat to a couple
with a canoe as they eat their supper
in the evening light. None of us can understand
why anyone visits a beautiful place
and leaves their rubbish. They tell me
they gathered six bags full from the river one day.
‘Nature will reward us for this’ I say, and she does:
In front of us, as we near the footbridge, a kestrel
hovers, wings beating rapidly. We watch,
until she flies off. A few minutes later
we see her dive, re-emerge from the grass,
small creature dangling from her talons.
On the way back: a buzzard, another kestrel.
A scrap of black bin liner caught in long grasses
hovers, like a raptor.
Lauren M Foster is a writer, artist and musician based in Charnwood, Leicestershire. She has been published in The New Luciad, DIY Poets, An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Leicester and more, and holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Leicester. She performs her work on a regular basis and is the drummer and singer in a garage-punk band, The Cars That Ate Paris.