THE great river has lost its Strauss-waltz glamour in this closely observed piece from W N Herbert's forthcoming twin-edition collection, Omnesia (Bloodaxe Books, £9.95 each).
Their title is a portmanteau word for omniscience and amnesia. There is much travelling and wit on show.
THE BROWN DANUBE
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On a floating platform being dragged
by a small reluctant boat
to a well-churched town, the name of which
I forget each time I 'm told it
rows of chairs are set out beneath
an awning and the blinding Serbian blue
as though this were a little theatre set adrift
or a cinema only showing one film:
'The River' - broad, brown,
endless and actorless, so
my fellow audience members leap up, snap,
attempt to fill the frame.
In the brow-prinkling, nose-pinking light
I watch the constant wooded banks
be punctuated here and there
by a half-sunk, slime-streaked dash
of rowboat, then a parting in the trees,
then a grey hem of pebbles.
Within the dark green shadow
there's a pale green hut and,
in front of this sufficiency,
a fisherman plays himself as
Expressionless Man with Bucket,
looking directly into the lens.