The Rib Swallowers

The stone ripples

of four rivers, arch

above the apse, flow

out of Eden.

But the living waters

are soon swallowed

by unknown creatures

enigmatic as cats.

See how their eyes judge us,

answering back our stares.

Who'd not be shaken

by such encounters,

entering there the hinterland

of dream or nightmare

as easily as we often

drift to silence on a boat

of sleep where rivers mix

beyond the daylight self.

Below the sanctuary

of St. Mary and St. David

the secret streams go,

deepening here, the dowsers say,

whose rods have trembled before

the crucifix and the candles.

Water, flowing out of Eden

mirrors the rivers in the roots

of trees, the flow in bone

that shapes us.

And reminds us now

of scuppered innocence

and a cross of cleansing water

cool as stone.

Chris Allan