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Under Hammersmith Bridge, 2016
for Robert Green

‘If he wants to find it, he’ll have to dive for it’ – T.J. Cobden-Sanderson, bookbinder and co-creator of the Doves typeface, 1916

I did it – at least, I paid the salvage men a century later.
I watched their seal-bodies drop overboard to sift through silt,
scrabble for fractions of metal each smaller than my fingernail,
smaller than pea teeth. Because the beauty of letters lasts longer
than the exit strategies of wronged parties. U is underwater,
horseshoe-like, for luck. E is no longer the enemy, just water
under the bridge. H is what happened, and Q is the questioning
eyes of pike and passing barge men. D is for utter devotion.
And diving. E for even now, eventually. A, alone and always.

 

— first published in The North 60 (2018)

Robin Houghton 2021