Swimming in the Great Ouse

That summer day in Pavenham,
hot and groaning for a swim,
we headed for the cooling river.

Curtains of willow shaded the steep bank,
where, behind its reeds, the Great Ouse swelled,
and a hissing swan told us to push off.

Dumbed by the afternoon heat,
our bare legs rashed with nettle stings,
we felt a tension grow within us.

We stopped. You looked at me and smiled,
we joined hands and made our silent way
to a green hide of moss and hawthorn.

Afterwards, we plunged naked into the river
thrilling in its chill soft flow
while the swan and the willows kept watch.