In the black gland of the earth
the tiny inkling of a river
The first impression of these opening lines is of symmetry and contrast: one line for earth, one for water; the silvery tinsel of the river against a black background. And notice how ‘inkling’ is perfect for the hesitant, broken thread of the river, glimpsed from this distance.
I love the way the second line is overlaid on the first, like the pages of an animator’s sketchbook, with different elements of the picture drawn on separate layers of transparent film.
Look closer and you’ll see how the same double stress has made a deep indent in each line, like the impression of the river valley on the landscape: ‘la… la’ in ‘black gland’, and ‘in… in’ in ‘tiny inkling’.
Finally, if you lean in close and listen carefully, you can hear, leaping the gap between ‘tiny’ and ‘inkling’, the river ‘tinkling’.