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Robin Knight

Burrator Reservoir

Prospect Reservoir by Sir Arthur Streeton

Run whooping into the pines, switch whipping trunks.
Glare from the reservoir warms our backs, burns
through savage hair as halos. Ours an unspoken agreement:

ignore the autism in him, ignore the racial mix in me. Each
carries his particular affliction in a pocket, a hidden pebble
rubbing rounded shoulders with penknives and moss. Tie

blindfolds to play Russian roulette with death caps
and inkhorns, the one chewing noisily for the amusement
of the other, the game of it knowing we risk everything.

I awake in spasm. He lies lifeless, mouth foaming.
He retches, rises to his feet, smirks.
The monk who haunts the moor left cheap

sneakers for us at the foot of a tree. We tumble
back to the road, run the reservoir so fast we leave
laughter hovering in the smell of hot rubber.

Above us, a ewe stands bleating atop the granite Tor,
white against the blue sky. Even this far off, he can tell
her breed is Alpine. Her song descends the slope

faster than Drake raced his stallion down Devonport Leat,
echoes off the water, drowns the chimes of the ice cream van.
Completing the loop in record time, we loiter panting

on the dam, spit into the drop. His drool turns to heavy clots
and bile, the weight drags him into the churn below.
I do not see him again.

This time remains untold.
Instead, stories I repeat
are of him as a man:

awkward, enraged,
breathing water when he should have breathed air
breathing air when he should have breathed water.

Tales of a life without whooping,
without switches: untransformed
ignorant of Burrator.


About the writer:
Robin knight is a mixed-race writer in Sussex, with poetry published in Rattle, The North, SOUTH, Filling Station, The American Journal of Poetry, Griffel, The Dewdrop, The Whirlwind, Visual Verse, and elsewhere. He co-authored a History Press Folk Tale collection. His novel Coyote, set in 19th Century Mexico, is seeking publication.

Image: Prospect Reservoir by Sir Arthur Streeton (1867-1943). Oil on canvas. 48.14 x 17.58 inches. 1895. Public domain.

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