Doubling Back

woman hiking along riverThe Valency Valley beckons me inland, eastwards, across what I remember was a meadow behind the row of shops, and is now a car park. The ground is tightly netted and gabionned against the vandal fingers of water. I’m soon walking through an aisle of trees, alone on a quiet path that follows the north bank of the river. A duck flies low and fast ahead of me, embodying purpose. Like the jets I see skimming the locks at home, it adjusts its angle in expert increments to steer the central course of the winding river, then disappears around a bend. But this flight defines the landscape as miniature; a narrow valley with secret corners. A scale and nature I’m here to re-learn.

Doubling Back: ten paths trodden in memory by Linda Cracknell, Freight Books, 2014.
Photo by Goran Bogicevic


The fast moving stream
has slowed to a dull lumbering
movement, the waters
shuffle and scuffle by, a calm
lull of sound

This is the place I held
on while we waded, unaware
of who I would be, what
life would bring

Dew on the grass, chirping
all around us, the lap
of water offering a constant
natural baptism.

By JD DeHart

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His poems have appeared in Gargouille and The Other Herald, among other publications. DeHart blogs at

Dawn in Betws-y-Coed

If you’re looking for magic:
that sense of something other –
then look no further.

See where the Conwy steps between the rocks –
touches the gravel redds* with icy feet
and dashes its wizened hair on banks and boulders.

This is a dawn where dippers dredge the light
for caddis grubs and other watery fare
in silent pools.

Oak and alder shade and over-stare
the river’s restless gouging of the rocks
where aeons and the instant come to share
this cleft of sunlight.

By Mervyn Linford

NB. Redd* = spawning nest formed by female salmon using
her tail to dig into the gravel at the bottom of the river.

river tumbling over rocks

Mervyn Linford lives in both Suffolk and Essex in the United Kingdom. He has been writing prose and poetry inspired by the natural environment for nearly fifty years. Saltwater and freshwater habits are his formative areas of interest and he still spends much of his time immersed in the sentient and spiritual dimensions of such places in both person and thauthor photoCredo book covere pen and the keyboard. Click here to visit his website. Mervyn’s latest poetry books may be found at Littoral Books.
Photo of Conwy River running through Betws-y-Coed, Snowdonia, North Wales, by the author.

Freshwater Cadence

I do not speak
the bubbling language
of fish underwater

I do not even speak
the language of the caster,
selecting lures, keeping
hooks out of low-hanging

My voice is the one
that stands, wading, still,
right by the shore, watching
a school of waving shapes
float gently by.

By JD DeHart

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His poems have appeared in Gargouille and The Other Herald, among other publications. DeHart blogs at

Leaf and Tree

I suppose we all have those places that preoccupy our early imagination. For Thoreau it was Walden, Donald Hall has Eagle Pond, Annie Dillard gave us her account at Tinker Creek, and for the rest of us, if we are fortunate to experience the common wonders of any natural landscape, this activity can become an opportunity for learning and even spiritual reflection. Growing up in West Virginia, the creek was always one of those places for me; a place to fish, explore and learn. Those finds in all aspects continue to renew themselves and remain an inexhaustible source of material for writing. “Leaf and Tree” is about that search that continues to this day.

Warm, autumn afternoons I would walk parallel with the creek
onto a broad, gravel bed.
Over the wide clearing
spread leaf-woven canopies beyond my body’s reach.
Once, in mid-August
I found a glass chalice half-covered with maple leaves
in the cradle of a wash-out.
Every rise of the creek changed a geography of shore and bank.

At the limestone base of a hill,
an eroded slip bordered this shallow pool of water.
My feet waded, walked a narrow space
beside jade that only light could conjure.
Hours in summer shade
rock shards tumbled from my hands at water’s ledge.
Their stacked forms would break,
shatter on the ground like loose glass.
Fragments held fossils; wood-knots, fern, feathers,
a tooth, ammonite, or the bones of fish in carbon film,
lichen green on burgundy brown.

Released from limb’s hold, gold twirled down,
yellow bliss in wind-spun shower
where light-filled forms fell in water at my feet.
I could feel the force of life
surge, open, not knowing solitude,
ignorant of all, yet aware something moved through me,
was part of me, that sensed in the reeling flurry
what is seen and lost, what always is, even then, unknown.

You don’t have words when you’re young.

A broken piece of lime, angled end in water,
drew gritty lines on sandstone—
primitive scrawls where meaning never was.
Leaves arced here and there.
These collided, tumbled forms in wind
were like a sea of breath throughout the body.
One shell, fragile as a locust hull
glided like an ancient boat across my reflection.

By John Timothy Robinson

Rocky creek with green trees

John Timothy Robinson is a traditional citizen and graduate of the Marshall University Creative Writing program in Huntington, West Virginia with a Regent’s Degree. He has an interest in Critical Theory of poetry and American Formalism. John is also a twelve-year educator for Mason County Schools in Mason County, WV.

Photo by sergwsq