Sankey Canal


When you leave Spike Island
you leave behind life.
You sense they are clawing you back…
The yachts, the families, the couples with dogs.
They’re all locals, and they all know.
And you? So innocent. Well, it’s just a canal.
And at first, it does seem safe.
Welcoming hoardings – a nature reserve.
A boardwalk to walk on.
But such things soon go.

You see a guy cycling, toward you,
who passes fast, head down.
Then you’re all alone.
And you notice where he came from.
And the gritty towpath is straight.
For miles. For three and half miles.
To what, suddenly, inexplicably,
seems like salvation.
And you walk. Fast.

You seek clues.
Indications of how far you must go.
There are overhead pylons
crossing the canal.
You look at your map.
And they’re only half way.

There’s a swan on the water.
Behind it, on the empty railway,
There’s a signal.
And behind the signal, rising high
and spouting smoke,
the cooling towers
of Fiddler’s Ferry Power Station.
And you think these things
all in a line
look odd.
So, you take a picture.
And then you walk again, faster.

You pass grassy bridges
over the canal.
But they’re not bridges.
They block it, cut it in half.
And only then, do you realize
that the canal is disused.
But the stagnant duckweed
should have told you that
way, way back.

The canal disappears.
It becomes a bed of reeds.
And they’re taller than you.
And there are tunnels into them
with clear water
like some crocodile’s lair.
What else could they be?

Now you’re in a tunnel.
A strange, weird trackway.
Enclosed by the reeds on one side
and a big industrial pipe on the other…
A fat, straight, pulpy worm
behind a high, barbed wire fence.
You can’t escape.

There’s only one way to go. Ahead.
A flock of geese pass over you.
They can escape. They’re lucky.
And you feel like you want to run.
But you can’t. You’ve boots on.
And you’re tired. This is mile thirteen.
Unlucky for some.

It’s been an hour.
And it’s got into your head.
But you know it’s now over.
An hour means three miles done.
So, you must see it…
And you do…
Salvation…
Fiddler’s Ferry Marina.

A lone guy fishing.
Great reflections.
You take a picture.
And you suddenly feel
you’ve emerged from a place of ghosts.
And you know that you have.

You didn’t need the internet
to tell of hauntings
when you got home.
Because, when you slept,
this place prised its way into your dreams.
And it made your write all this…

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