"Clapper bridge": a poem by Fiona Benson

Clappers: quarried flats
laid like tableboards
over stacked supports,
colonised by lichens, moss.

You love the coppery run
of the stream, its scatter of insects
ringed in brightness
the single, slate-finned fish

but what you want
is the way light projects
on the underside of these granite slabs
with a soft, ravelling mobility

what you want is waterlight,
that dance, that luminous flux
and the fraction’s shift
in the bedrock of the moor

that puts you on course
with the barrowbuilders
shouldering along the lych way
heavy-footed at the fording place.

This article first appeared in the 01 October 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Labour conference special