Old Man River

The sea, agitated into a westerly migration by the wind, crumples and floods out from the harbour.

A gig boat, like an oversized canoe, cuts a fluid line across sun-drenched water as its elderly crew slowly row against the wind. The shouts to keep time are muffled and distorted by the distance.


A harbour, Cornwall.

Two black and white Osytercatchers fly above the uneven water, eventually taking refuge among slippery rocks.

On the coastline, where a pebble-strewn beach is barred from the land by low, earthy cliffs, freshwater pours down slick stone and disappears under the sand.

I suppose it permeates away, to be lost in the black hole of the giant ocean.

Funny; how we have all these names to separate the seas of this world, when really there is only one, globe-spanning body of water. The streams losing themselves into the salt water are about to join this one sea, which encircles the Earth.


A stream’s last leg, facing the blinding horizon.

But, there the water is – still flowing – perpetually going about its journey, serving some small effect; a fraction of the water cycle which sustains all life.

A seemingly thankless task, being absorbed and lost forever, you’d think. Except that in reality, it is a link in a chain far more permanent, for more ‘meaningful’ (if you can call it that), than humankind can appreciate.

Older than old, the water is a storytelling grandparent; with tales that reach back through millennia – billions of years, even – to when (however it happened) water found its way to our Planet and brought together the conditions that sparked life.

I think – or at least I like to think in a romantic, over-the-top sort of way – that all of this is a part of why I like to be near water.

Yours, J. J. Lillis


2 thoughts on “Old Man River

  1. Lovely words. I also sometimes think about how all the seas of the world are really one big ocean – but I guess naming things that are closest to us is part of the way we connect to our own immediate place.


    • You’re definitely right about there being reasons of identity and meaning for naming things separately, as well as lots of good scientific ones too. I suppose it’s just a good thought experiment to appreciate that there is one mass of water around the world.

      Cheers Amanda,


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