Tuesday Poem: River Rising - for a flooded Appleby

From the window
the weir's constant conversation
has vanished -
by a brown silence.

We watch the water push
its way around the mill house
dangerous and unexpected.
Measure its rise
step over step
towards the door.

We rescue carpets
stack sandbags.  Decide
what we most value.

Gently it laps across
the flagstones, casually
exploring cupboards, cellars
boot-deep.  Then -
a thud, a surge; the force
that drove the mill wheels powers
through windows and doors.

From the safe stairs' island
we fish floating furniture
with a broom.  All our geography
is different - now we are
part of the river's narrative.

It rushes through rooms,
every window's view;
everything is river.

Beyond the gaping doors
a street lamp blooms
yellow in a brown sea.

© Kathleen Jones

My garden and first floor windows are under the water.  River 20 feet above normal level.
This poem was written for an earlier, much more benign, event.  The flood we have just experienced topped anything previously recorded.  341 mm of rain in 24 hours produced a raging torrent that swept away roads and bridges, stopped rail services and inundated houses and businesses.  Our ground floor was flooded several feet deep and it encroached a foot deep onto the upper mezzanine floor.  Windows have been smashed and there is mud and debris everywhere. We are lucky in that we still have a dry bed to climb into.  But it has been terrifying and, because we can't get flood insurance, will be very expensive. My thoughts go out to everyone who is homeless and struggling to cope. 
Ground floor window after the river goes down. 


  1. My thoughts are with you, Kathleen. x

  2. Well it's a great poem and I admire that you can write it under such circumstances. Thinking of you and hope you get it all sorted and safe again soon. It sounds horrific!

  3. What a terrible experience! I cannot find adequate words to express my sympathy. Feeling very thankful to be in a dry area of Carlisle.

  4. How horrendous.
    Sounds like a tropical downpour!
    All the weather is stuffed-up everywhere.

  5. Thanks for your comments everyone. The river was back up today but is going down again now. It is beautiful most of the time, but we are really paying for the view now!


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