Colin Will – Cromford Mill

Cromford Mill

River rushes past the man
who sees it, begins to think

about the power behind it
and how it might be used.

A weir would hold back the flow,
build a head of water behind it;

a cut, sluiced for control, to move
a new stream to where it’s needed.

Idea builds on idea,
translates to bricks and mortar.

The new build, big as a church,
takes shape beside the lade,

and a wooden wheel,
tall as the walls,

seizes the water’s force, ships it inside
where belts and pulleys gear it down

to racketing looms, deafened workers.
Cotton in, cloth out, as the wheel turns.

Colin Will lives in Dunbar. He has had eight poetry collections published, the latest being The Book of Ways (Red Squirrel Press, 2014). He does readings, runs workshops, and chairs the Board of the StAnza Poetry Festival. He runs the pamphlet publisher Calder Wood Press, and the poetry zine The Open Mouse. Website:

2 thoughts on “Colin Will – Cromford Mill

  1. I like this — evocative of a time and a place and a moment in history — and especially this: “Idea builds on idea,”

  2. I rally enjoyed this, Colin, apart from being a well-crafted poem, it sets the scene beautifully – ‘racketing looms, deafened workers’ take me back to a Lancashire childhood when I used to visit an uncle who worked in the engine house of a cotton mill. It was operated by a steam engine at that time, but the noise was the same, and my granny who worked there when she was a girl lost her hearing through the non-stop noise.

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