Derek Adams’ Oxfam Water Week Poems



After Anton Chekhov

It’s nothing,
a light shower
carried on the breeze,
soon forgotten,
afterwards the weak sun
hardly casts a shadow.

Near the stone bridge
clinging to the bank,
a dense mass –
its green leaves
and purple petals wave
to passing insects.

The air moves –
a splash of startled ducks,
a voice,
sinking deep
into silence,
into cold.

Ripples lost in the flow,
the river regains
its composure,
tension unbroken,
the surface changes
becomes an obsidian mirror

reflecting clouds
black and heavy.
A rumble like distant
rain water
fills the boat,

there is nowhere to take cover.
Droplets run
between fabric and skin,
like rats, like a boy toward a river.
Lean forward, grab the oars,
pull, pull till it hurts.


Out of my depth

Seventy percent of the Earth is covered in water,
ninety-seven percent of Earth’s water is in oceans,
of which less than five percent has been explored.

They say it’s the last great mystery,
that we know more about outer space
than the bottom of the sea.
We sit feeling safe
in our highly pressurised bubble;
as halogen spots
probe deep waters.
I wonder how much I know about you
or how much you know about me.

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