Slow Apocalypse

Part of a series of poems written in response to Riverside Country Park in Rainham, Medway.

There was a slow apocalypse
end-time problems building up gradually
a stratification of troubles
a muddy, silted-up counting of the last days
all whimper, no bang
that struck – not suddenly –
but with the consistency of years
death by a thousand moments.

The saltmarsh crinkles like the sound of cellophane
a giant’s invisible fingers slowly unwrapping a present
just beneath the surface of the seemingly-still mud:
here, time works differently
movement is counted in centuries.

Defined by what it is not
absence is everywhere
stealthily creeping through the woods
surrounding us in a hidden trap
like a well-disciplined army
about to strike
though the assault never comes.

Wooden boats fallen on their sides
petrified hunting creatures that have just given up
metal ships long gone to rust
beached tin-can whales slowly corroding
strange aquatic beasts fallen sleep and never woken
washed up by the tides
broken up by air
preserved in salt.

The landscape is broken –
even the sun doesn’t set right.