Beached in Limehouse

Text for the ‘Come Hell or High Water’ event that was postponed due to the lockdown in May 2020

The land mass of river bed become beach, beached, eased, allowed for, swept back, sunken, elevated, given space to breathe. You wake in water, looking down. You bathe at the edge, down the rough wooden steps to get washed and ready for the day. You’re a mudlark scavenging for what’s thrown up and off the passing boats, wood for the fire and the occasional treasure, a coin or piece of jewellery. Three is all you can hold in your mathematical mind, the three sides drawn in the sand here with an X at this corner marking London, this port. 

You stand on terra firma and it slowly sinks. Your feet are wet and the land is disappearing fast, in a not-dream. This, in a place, looking out and knowing it will return, sure as sun, back in response to a tidal flow that’s linked to moon phase and another not-dream. The boats that pass carry refuse, sweetness and human cargo readiness, backwards and forwards left to right, London to Africa to the Indies and contentedly back with muscovado sugar, two days shore leave and off again. The triangle that sits on the table underused for measuring and cutting, getting it right when there are only the wrongs of ancestors driven by greed and spectacular profit margins. Even the queen succumbs and lends her boats to sample the smooth surety, while her tooth is so sweet that she speaks with tight lips to conceal the sugar damage pre implant-ation. The priest speaks of heathens and relishes such generous donations. The respectable merchants are sure to worship regularly at St Mary’s and say their prayers at night.

River, water, shore, land lost, regained, not claimed. I will claim you, have a piece of you, possess you, build on you as the tide moves. It will be a clever dwelling, occasionally submerged and with spectacular views of all that has gone before, including fifty slave ships a year. It will have deep foundations supplied by the bottomless pockets of a rock star, a pool in the basement and a fabulous high tide pavilion that appears to float on the water surface like a super yacht or cruise liner waiting to be infected.

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