Sand-bed, they said. And gravel-bed. Before
I knew river shallows or river pleasures
I knew the ore of longing in those words.
The places I go back to have not failed
But will not last. Waist-deep in cow-parsley,
I re-enter the swim, riding or quelling
The very currents memory is composed of,
Everything accumulated ever
As I took squarings from the tops of bridges
Or the banks of self at evening.
Lick of fear. Sweet transience. Flirt and splash.
Crumpled flow the sky-dipped willows trailed in.
—Seamus Heaney, section xli from “Squarings” in Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996 (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1998)
Painting: Joseph Mallord William Turner, Willows Beside a Stream, 1805