The river came out of the ground underneath the rocks
We watched and wondered where it came from
Drank it, used it for cooking
And our clothes in it
Animals sated their summer thirst
Transient birds stopping off
Heralded the seasons
On their way south and north
The mill race turned the water wheel
Setting the mill-stones grinding
Meal sustaining a population
In cake and porridge.
Progress arrived in the form of drainage
Flood plain gave way to meadow
Fertilizer seeped through the earth’s pores
Water became opaque
Birds passed by
Mill race silent
Water no longer potable
River without sparkle of life
A way of life obsolete.
Columban Fr. Bobby Gilmore lives and works in Ireland.