Chapter Severn – The Mouth – Danger

♒︎     Danger     ♒︎

Photo by me.

Don’t be fooled by their seductiveness. Rivers are dangerous bodies of water. Know them less, and they’ll grab your hips and pull you down, and all the way along. They’ll fill your lungs with mud and blood clots, and turn you intertidal.

Awkward, we huddled around in triage waiting for my father’s final admission to Hereford General. It was just three years after my mother’s death and the next cubicle bulged with an inflatable forced-air warmer. Its tin foil deformity, puckered at the seams, hid well the shadow-person deep inside. We were told—in whispers—he’d been hauled from a “jumping” at the Wye. These lunar-pale faces are not uncommon in triage. As gut wrenched as I was by my father’s now life-snuffing growths, this stranger moved me, and to remember my own special symbiosis with suicide.

On a bad day—a really bad day— the Wye is as lethal as any body of water. You don’t even need to jump, just a lazy slip will do it, and immersion into totality.


I know how those black, liquid-slick bubbles of bio-continuum entice, especially in high summer; colours too colourful, people too happy; everything’s bent above a body’s surface made of thick plated cylinder glass. In the Unit, my mother tried to tell me about it, and then I came to know something of it too; all you love is muffled, warped, yet still comprehended; like pointing a camera at the things we are supposed to adore, but cannot find with no lens attached.