In the beginning there was water – a glass of H2O fizzing over ice, the call for time in a backstreet bar they’d found, and as they walked the towpath home, he told her of the rivers, lost, forgotten, sluicing far beneath the city streets – Effra, Wandle, Tyburn, Fleet. He told her of the pike’s sudden snapping in the dark, of eels coiled and dozy in the sediment, still dreaming of the warm Sargasso Sea.
And what was he – a merman, a landlocked sailor half-mad with whale song, charmed by sirens, dowsing for the secret birth of Ravensbourne or Hackney Brook, pouring over sepia maps of wells and springs and silted ponds. But she was rooted, urban, coated with an urban skin, and had long forgotten any shared dream of budding limbs floating in the amniotic dark. Instead she worked her earthbound spells of T bone steaks and Merlot, and found the elements do not mix, but churn and settle, parallel, separate, distinct.