Exmoor’s Gift – the River Exe

Exmoor’s Gift – the River Exe
Dedicated to The Exmoor Society

Clouds sculpted by Atlantic winds
sail towards land
their harbour
Exmoor
cargoes
smuggled over
Devon’s Wistlandpound
to barrows on the highest moor

''statuesque.. patient''

here Bronze Age hunters knew
the plateau’s morning mist
now ponies graze
statuesque
patient
– gorse and heather
laced by a hundred streams
united like uncertain warriors

from here one tiny rivulet
no bigger than the rest
trickles insistently
unseen
beneath
a stone-built bridge
then shyly turns beside a road
its pulse soon measured day and night

escaping now past scattered trees
a wooden fence or two
farmland
caravans
footpaths
braved by rucksacks
boots and hardy souls
in worlds ignorant of time

“..the teenage River Exe ambles through Exebridge” The Exe at Exbridge and The Anchor Inn. The bridge and river mark the Somerset-Devon border.

shouldering its anxious way
through postcard villages
past cottages
and thatch
– joined
by the Haddeo
and the River Barle
where counties meet

Somerset’s gift to Devon
the teenage River Exe
ambles through
Exebridge
squeezes
past wooded slopes
slides over sparkling weirs
sweeps around wide shingle banks

Bridge at Bickleigh

'Bickleigh... narrow bridges fight the current...'

until
challenged by Tiverton
sweet revenge
railways arrived railways departed
down to Bickleigh
troubled waters toss a tree trunk
narrow bridges fight the current
where a heron on its vigil…

…darts for silver flashing scales…
here in the widening valley
space to turn…
…time to yawn
Bickleigh Castle… Dandyland

weirs and shallows
indecision
islands
leats
farms ripe for flooding

Exe in Exeter

'milked of strength...' Blackaller Weir and Millers Crossing, with flood relief channel. (Photo: Derek Harper. Copyright. Creative Commons licence)


strengthened by the Culm and Creedy
squeezed
by a final wood and railway
managed
milked of strength by man-made channels
Double Locks, Exeter Ship Canal

'...the Double Locks' big enough for two boats. Oil painting by Brett Humphries - see more of Brett's work at www.bretthumphries.com


Exe Bridges
shops
canal, ships (for the use of)
(the Double Locks)
Trews Weir, Ducks Marsh
Countess Wear (bridges, swinging)
salt

salt?
a whiff of sea
the tidal limits
motorway above a boatyard

'at Topsham... mud and worms and snails and shellfish'

fresh water from the Clyst at Topsham
mud and worms and snails and shellfish
swept by tides
dined on by
wildlife

Exe Estuary and Dawlish Warren

'a final bar to salt and freedom... Dawlish Warren' (photo: Google Earth)

Brent geese winter from Siberia
spindly avocet and curlew
paradise of cockles, lugworms
crossed at high tide by the ferries
admired from passing trains
sliced by windsurfers

a final bar to salt and freedom
sandy warren
Dawlish Warren
golf and beaches
dunes and nesting
resting till the tide retreats

fresh water from the Exe
is funnelled
past Pole Sands
to open seascape

Sea Area Portland…
…where the summer sun is forecast
to lift, distil, refresh the water…
gathered far above the coastline
clouds are born
which smuggle cargoes…

Tony French
www.poemsplease.me
Photos: as credited. Others: Tony French