BLUE NILE, WHITE NILE
My grand-daughter used to know everything.
When she was six she told me the Nile has two names:
the Blue Nile and the White Nile. ‘Sometimes it’s called one,’
she said, ‘sometimes the other’, though she couldn’t say why
and, to be honest, nor could I. She informed me I should not
eat meat, and must never be unkind to earwigs who are
such brilliant mothers. Her logic was somewhat hit and miss
but informed with great passion, her disapproval coloured
with satisfaction at her own moral superiority. Now, in her teens,
she’s aware I already know some of these things for myself but,
since my generation is famous for being foul-mouthed and hair-raisingly
incorrect on anything you care to mention, she never falls short
of opportunities to lecture me, to continue her benevolent project of trying,
against all the odds, to make a better person of me. Doubt, of course,
comes on with age – hers as well as mine – allowing us to linger
in the reeds of the mysterious Nile, like Moses in his basket,
unsure whether we are floating in the White water or the Blue,
or when, without warning, we might sweetly over-flow.
‘Blue Nile, White Nile.’ won 3rd prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2021) judged by Paul McDonald.
Maggie Wadey writes novels, TV screenplays and poems. Her most recent book is a memoir of her mother and Ireland, ‘THE ENGLISH DAUGHTER‘ (Sandstone Press, 2016). She has two poems in a new Norman Nicholson anthology of lockdown poetry ‘The Unpredicted Spring‘ and is short-listed for the Well Festival Poetry Prize this October. She lives in Hackney, London, with her husband, an actor.