Child of the Canal

 With cold iron we pulled her
up through a mouth of ice,
the pale blue and white dress
twisted as if some unearthly god
had fouled her further paleness,
eyes hammered shut, her hair
caught in one final sweep. Night
too trod silver on her face
where a faint star shone.

Parents, rooted, twined, came
part of the moaning adrift
on darkness, wind and water
at turmoil. This was her
great step forward, escape
from smaller joys, a mouth
of water at elsewhere sears
away the parching, leaks down
through the dry scars of July,
a throat driven arid by August
with its harsh fistfuls.

At another time she ladled
the worn pewter cup at well,
cooled her lips with a moment
of deep rock, roots shifting
underground, years of sediment
from up this other rocky throat.

Stars shine there, passing
softly through the bucket handle,
where the Seven Sisters see
Seven Sisters in that low field.

Oh, we raked her in from the stars.