by Robbie Burton

The donkey followed me to the ford.
I pointed at the river’s grey colour, told him
how it ran orange back in the steelworks days
and the way trout and limestone turned rusty. 
I showed him that, even now, you could scrape a stone
and still disturb red oxide. 
The donkey remained silent, eyeing the depth of water.
I told him about the spring that used to bubble
in the lane, clear and cool. 
And still he stood. I couldn’t fathom his thoughts so,
hitching up my skirt, crossed the ford. 
Behind me a clatter then a splashing. I called out
The river is mostly recycled rain but he continued
upstream. And, though he’d told me nothing, his absence
was a cold draught, cold as the incessant water.