• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 12
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Hapi reincarnate on the Lea (or, Lord of the Fish and the Birds of the Marshes)

It seems like a strange place for you to wind up, Hapi, if I’m honest.

And yet, here you are: a 4,000 year old Egyptian Nile god, bringing your still-fertile riches to the Valley of the Lea. Worshipped for bringing their annual inundation, we’re armed against you now, most often. Just here and there, you slip through.

Today I walk with you, Hapi, eyeing your sly delighted incursions on the marsh. You pool and spread languid over grass, settling in. Flood plains are your Hapi place. And these – well, to some they appear very plain. Unbeautiful even, growing the taut pylons that glint in the sunlight, looming overhead like wild steel giants. The pathways are spattered with lurid detritus in high-density polyethylene that will never rot underfoot.

‘Industrial’, they say. ‘Urban.’


I walk with you, Hapi, as you get into your flow. I choose to see you amid the hulking pyramidic structures and the Lucozade bottles. So there may be power lines and plastic, but it’s the plants I seek; creeping marshwort and reed sweet grass and sedge shifting in the air. So there may be planes scrawling their way between clouds, but it’s the birds I hear; swans and geese and cormorants in noisy conversation.

I don’t know if you brought these vital things with you or if these vital things are what brought you here. It doesn’t matter. We enjoy them together. The pylons keep up their march, across the landscape, off into the far distance.


Hapi reincarnate on the Lea (or, Lord of the Fish and the Birds of the Marshes)

I leave you sated and return home. On a whim, I consult the dictionary. Pylon. The word is looping in my head. How did it leak into this mongrel language?

When I find the answer, Hapi, it makes me laugh. Because you already know where that word comes from, don't you? πυλών, the dictionary says. That’s all Greek to me. Its first meaning? The grand entrances of Egyptian temples.

Some Hapi accident or design, then, that you now linger in the Valley of the Lea, oh Lord of the Fish and the Birds of the Marshes, as the air moves softly through the pylons, each now a monumental gateway to the worship of you.