matt martin

thames from ‘tamesis’      a latinisation of brythonic meaning ‘dark water’      you are walking beside the river at limehouse      looking onto the reach known as the lower pool of london      its turbid speculum discloses nothing      before it was embanked the thames flowed wider and more shallowly      in the roman period nearly twice as broad      a person standing on this spot would be neck-deep in thames mud      tide rising high overhead      across blind eyeballs the eddies of capital swirling in the wakes of trading ships      to the west the weight of skyscrapers fractures the contemporary city’s carapace of glass and steel      the cracks re-establish london’s medieval street pattern      east and canary wharf’s towers haul themselves from the marsh of the isle of dogs      you are standing by the thames at wapping      ‘wappa inge’      old english meaning ‘wappa’s people’      named for an elder or founder of the early medieval settlement here      on the foreshore a saxon is carving runes onto the prow of his boat      taking great care      he knows that one syntax error might compromise the spell he’s inscribing      if the vessel will be used for trade      beached on the strand and used as an improvised market stall      as many are in the nearby port of lundenwic      and if in his programming he accidentally interchanged a plus and minus      the spell might go berserk      the stall would build exponentially bigger trading positions      no longer correcting for excess      in a matter of seconds a fortune could be lost      the merchant would have to smash the runes with an axe to rescue the whole kingdom’s economy      you ask the runewright to teach you a spell      what sort of magic would you like

    •    a rune for acquiring boundless wealth
    •    a rune to detect dangerous necromancy in your area