BETWEEN RIVERS is a quarterly series edited by Alan Horne. It is focused on the area bounded by the rivers Alyn, Dee and Gowy, on the border between England and Wales in Flintshire and Cheshire. You can read about the background to Between Rivers in the Introduction.
In this August 2023 edition, we feature works by the contemporary Wrexham-based poet and artist Anne Douglas. She is a member of Cross Border Poets, based at Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden in Flintshire.
Most of her poems are meditations on natural features. We start with her poem The Alyn, about one of the defining streams of the Between Rivers project. The accompanying illustration, Morning Glory, is a drawing by the poet of convolvulus, often found on the banks of the river.
Ambling down Rossett’s Manor Lane
Passing the River Alyn,
Part of which traverses our road
We pass trees, hedgerows and tall trees
At the side of the fence.
We hear the dulcet, lyrical sounds
Of the blackcap,
The goldfinches flitting down
Between seed head weeds.
Later, we pass woodland and pastures
On which friendly cattle graze,
Through a country garden the Alyn
We cannot follow the meandering Alyn to its end
because it disappears through
But we meet with the Alyn later as it snakes through kingfisher country:
they fly low, skimming over water.
We stop here and listen to the sound
of the river
Eventually the river becomes one of the tributaries of the River Dee
Or the Holy Dee.
Part of the interest of Anne Douglas’ poems is that they often appear at first to be transparent and simple, but then give a sense of something else happening just out of view. In Rose Wall or The Close of the Day this is almost literally the case, as the world of the poem is divided by a wall. It is accompanied by the poet’s drawing Rose Hips.
Rose Wall or The Close of the Day
Near a shady wall
A rose once blossomed
Fair and tall she grew
And through a gap
Her tendril crept
Of what might lie
On the other side
She breathed out
Her fragrance more and more
It was no different
On the other side
Still she grew there
Near the shady wall
Just as she would
Scattering her fragrance
Forever and a day
Until her life ebbed away
The evening sun
At the close of day
Although born in Cheshire and being a long-time resident of north-east Wales, Anne Douglas was brought up in the Far East and has travelled extensively. This is reflected in many of her poems, which are sometimes almost haunted by the memory of a distant land. Here is The Bees Must Have A Name For It.
The Bees Must Have A Name For It.
With the cries of the birds
Perhaps the honey-guide bird
I come across a flounce of red flowers
In a pearlescent dusk
The bees must have a name for it
Of the carnation border
Or of the bean blossom
They must have a name for it too
In bee language
Here and there
More and more
As the branch
Peeps over the garden wall
Until at length
With a final kiss from the sun
Tiny fragranced flowers close
And night has come
concolvulusCross Border PoetsGladstone's LibraryRiver Alynriver Deerose hipsRossettWrexham