“And even to this day, the river
is called Sabrina after the name
of Habren through corruption.”
— Geoffrey of Monmouth

When Sabrina, drowned in icy River Severn,
shed her layers of skin like scales, her white
cadaver changed from flesh to sponge to scum,
her particles dispersed until the riverwater’s
rushing had no inch of channel left untouched.

When a silken mudbank, receptive as a cushion,
embraced that woman’s carcass like a throne,
we, her people, blue with woad and naked
(yes, barbarians we were, who’d foiled
the gilded rams invading from the continent),
did kneel above the river’s twisting tract
imploring her to shape us into water.

For she’d become the ageless soul of Severn,
a mind serene, inseparable from stream,
and darting far from Severn Sea through this,
the Island of the Mighty; with tributaries like silver
fanned above the land’s vicissitudes,
or fingers straying teasingly, first in,
then out of sand — or silty vessels pumping
inland from the snowy peaks of Wales —

And further back again, she changes us
from headwater to vaporous rain — to cloud
and sky — completely rarefied, and on
and on to cerulean blue, infused with pungent
ozone, razor-sharp on tongue — and we
diffuse ourselves as gracefully as she,
our grainy tissue pinched for solvent rain.

[Andrew Warburton lives in Cranston, Rhode Island, and has had poems and prose pieces featured in Chroma: A Queer Literary Journal, Wilde Stories 2015, Crimson Streets, and other places. He received his MA in creative writing from Bath Spa University.]