Rare Constants
A canal-themed exhibition
by Simon Zonenblick and Alan Wrigley

"Rain subsides, rain falls, rain blends on a sky-like surface, fishes glittering below; ducks sail gently by.
Evening sun glows gently over the canal.
We are very lucky to live on this beautiful planet."

"Like tunnels burrowed by enterprising gangs
of weasels, voles, or big, subsurface predators,
they split and sub-divide, a grid of burrowed waterscapes
as if the veins of earth had somehow opened up."

"January dusk; ducks huddle upon waters
bounced on by a cavalcade of rain."

"Midnight, and a daggering black shape of wings,
like a looming W appears
in shadow over moon-blue water;
seconds later and its brooding form
is overhead, and floating into tar-black distance."

Not all of these images are on display in the current physical exhibition at Tower Hill Dental Practice
Click on any image to see a larger version

Featured Poem:




Under the watchful half-eye of a crescent moon -
fox-holes soiled up in winter's disrepair,
scraps of feather, bones decaying in the hedgerows -
the water's lit, a lunar aluminium,
and bottlenecks towards the bridge
where, flowing through the darkness,
it emerges to a bankside, draining out.

Boats bob, dog-dirt rots on paths.
Here's terminus, a hectare of hardening sludge
as February, March commingle, and the diminishing stretch
of canal's exhibited for all the sorry mud-and-garbage it's become.
Midge-infested, coffin-black, the mouth of muck is speckled with coke-cans.
Redundant limbs of old machinery clog up as broken glass and plastic bags
waste away, as if the whole inflated blotch, a muddy microcosm
were some big bin.





At a distance on this Sunday afternoon,
you're eyebrow-fine in river mist,
cut sharp and almost one-

as though your wafer-thinness
were a cloak,
a winter pelt,
or as when our insides
are x-rayed onto screens
or analysed through samples,
charts and graphs,
we see ourselves reduced to DNA,
our blood and bones
blackboarded in a squiggled jumble,
technologically transfigured, gridded,
a dot-to-dot re-focusing,
like some complicated, simple mathematical joke.

Perhaps this wraithlike sillhouette,
this flickered implication's
how we look, framed
through avian eyes,
or when offering a thread,
our shadowed selves concealed,
in office, waiting room, field, or home,
when money, faith, or love's set down
and bartered over.
Ours is a world of angles, shades,
of outlines, and beyond them, other outlines tapering
to far horizons.





The canal, a pewter moonbeam ribboning the town, is silent:

a sleeping sheep, it radiates
a silvered calm, beaded by bobbing
boats of blue and bushy green.

The barges may as well be lily-pads,
the unobtrusive rectangle of water
one of many stitched into a twined bone-structure

rimming parks and pathways,
soft like settling snow - canals endure
seemingly unendingly and simple,

a stark reciprocity of gains,
un-squeezed harvest of persistent peace,
a long rain-coloured corridor

no longer used for coal or sacks of grain,
but resurrected from the slimiest demise
by holiday-and-home-makers, their boats

like tubes of childhood sweets
bobblingly slotted along waters
self-evidently tinselling a round, echoic course.

Shy relations of aggressive seas,
genteel cousins of the rivers,
unselfconscious and subdued, reassuringly straightforward:

in a world of continual uncertainties, canals are rare constants.