The Elusive Source
Finding the source, where streams come from
that's a thing to be sought. So I went up on the path
through the wood, following the tumble of water
down the furrow it had ploughed for itself through trees
and paused on the narrow footbridge where one stream
falls steeply into another. Two sources then?
But I followed the main stream up to the top of the wood
where again two streams joined and fell together
into the ravine between the trees. One ran from beneath
a hedge out of a rushy field; the main flow from under the lane
by the edge of the wood. I crossed the tarmac, stared through a drain
listening to the roar of water into a pipe under the lane rushing
through to the woodland stream. There was a stream by the lane once
in a deep trough over the grass verge so cars passing on the narrow road
would sometimes go in, tyres stuck in the stream's ditch. So they filled it
with hardcore to flatten the verge and the stream now runs even deeper
below the old ditch bottom. Nothing stops its flow. But above, where
meadowsweet grew in the damp edges of the ditch, only grass grows.
True, soon other hedgebank herbs will come creeping in, like dandelion
and celandine. But meadowsweet is lost to this quiet lane above the wood.
And the streams? Their sources remain mysterious, each one fed
by streamlets trickling out of wet ground in field and wood, too many
to say which is the source, too various to trace the intermittent pulses,
evasive as the absent scent of meadowsweet in the summer lane.