The Cambridge Lodes run eye-to-eye to infinity At Bottisham, between Slades Farm Here, streams slippery as eels Together, “with great pains” Winter evenings
by Neil Leadbeater
low-level markers for river-runs
deep ditches in still places
blue-green algae in summer scums
whose rheens are all that remains
of nineteenth century industrial power
that once raised amazing weights
fifty tons a minute…
imagine the force in that.
and a disused railway bridge
never wide enough for a fen lighter
but good for smaller craft
a chamber is all that remains.
You have to imagine the flashlock,
the timber guillotine gate,
a winding drum and a winding wheel
cogwheels with ratchets –
all the paraphernalia
that made it possible
for the passage of goods
to cut through the fens.
are hemmed in on either side
running between embankments –
communities of carr and sedge,
corridors for damselflies
pockets of gibbous duckweed
water mites for miles.
Pepys Calls in the Joiner
they make presses to house his books
because he’s tired of seeing them lying about
reclining in his chairs.
It is July 1666 and I imagine
streaming into his rooms
so that you can see into the middle distance
dust motes thick as thieves
two people stumbling about
attempting to restore some order:
trees, wood and paper
foremost on their minds.
It was the start of Library Furniture -
nothing less than
in which a gentleman could display
his highly prized bindings
for others to admire –
not chiffoniers, smaller and lower,
to stand in other rooms…
in boulle marquetry -
nor did it have adjustable shelving
or stand with matching counterparts
flush against his walls.
I see his rooms lit by candles –
hands busy with books
sorting as to size.
Neatness was his purpose,
not subject matter
Dewey Decimal was a long way off
not yet on the cards.
The Cambridge Lodes
run eye-to-eye to infinity
At Bottisham, between Slades Farm
Here, streams slippery as eels
Together, “with great pains”