William the Conqueror’s fleet – of perhaps
five hundred long boats – assembled
in the Bay of the Somme. ‘History’
more or less rhymes with ‘irony’. The river
flowed through the flat bottomed chalky valley
steadily then and the years of the battle.
As the world has warmed, the water table
has risen, creating fens and marshes –
calm, bosky stretches catching the empty sky.
Numbers, for the most part, are abstract, even
of the British dead and wounded that first day –