river over stones by Lizzie Ballagher

East Lyn River in Exmoor

these stones             were chipped
off mountaintops              or swept
           aside                     by terminal moraines
marooned               by melting permafrost

but now—right here—are packed
                                         stacked in piles for miles
                                         clacking their tongues
                               in the rush & haste & gush of water

                                   are dyed
                     by centuries of running riverwork
           rounded to pebble & shingle
scuffed & buffed & smoothed

inscribed & sculpted
           by the mercy of moorland water—

                     and here where the gorge narrows
spindrift rises in a mist

drizzles in thin & shifting cloud       as prodigal oaks
loose their leaves upon them      drop
radiant shards of thin-
paned            bright-stained-glass

                     to merge & meld in the river
          where red deer pause
on the brim
to drink

              while at the falls a salmon leaps
                      while a brown wren chirrs from the gorse
                             while over all a falcon hovers on wings
                                      the colour of water-melted leaves


A published novelist between 1984 and 1996 in North America, the UK, Netherlands and Sweden (pen-name Elizabeth Gibson), Lizzie Ballagher now writes poetry rather than fiction. Her work was featured at the 2017 Houston, TX, Poetry Festival and also appears intermittently in South-East Walker Magazine and Poetry Space.  Her poetry has also been published in magazines in England, Ireland and the US. Two of her poems have recently been nominated by Nine Muses for the 2018 Pushcart Prize.

Having spent all her life in editorial and teaching work, she is a long-time member of the UK Society of Authors. She lives in southern England, writing a blog at https://lizzieballagherpoetry.wordpress.com/

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