A poem by Luigi Marchini in response to ‘Canterbury Tales on a Cockcrow Morning’

November 2nd, 2012 § 0 comments

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This poem was written in response to the story ‘Ferry me Softly’ from Canterbury Tales on a Cockcrow Morning by Maggie Harris. It was read as part of the 7 Tales, 7 Poems, 7 Days and Nights events at the Canterbury Festival 2012. Read the poem below. or download The River Stour Luigi Marchini as a pdf

The River Stour


Its source is some place near Lenham they say

but the boatman states Canterbury is its home,

this city that marks the crossing of 4 Roman roads.


Sarah holds her baby tight; a gust rides the river,

she muffles a cry as they pass under Kings Bridge

and remembers the last time she was here...

Sarah had sat with her mum, grabbing onto

her arm firmly as she skimmed

the water for flamingos and crocodiles.

She was happy then.


The boatman says something

but Sarah doesn’t hear

because she is still with her mum,



They float past a house to the left

deserted, windowless,

black where a door should be

and, on the right, a giant tree which

clackles in the breeze;

a fetor like that of old rubbish

strewn carelessly

rises from the river,

merging with branches

of time that belong to the tree

and the memories hidden in the dark

of her old family home.


As they get off, Sarah kisses

her sleeping daughter.



A different boatman now stares at her bald head

as if that’s all that’s wrong. He doesn’t know

that Sarah catches her daughter’s scent

in the wind as they float past the new housing complex

where her home once was nor that Sarah is wondering

how many Roman families died whilst

fording the river, building Watling Street.


As the wind blows stronger, Sarah senses

her daughter’s soul sift through the hole

in her coat pocket as if it were silt

and she watches as it skims the water;

feeling even emptier

she blows a kiss after it.

Luigi Marchini









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