Watersmeet to Lynmouth
River morning Lynmouth; two dippers
white throats bobbing, tails cocked
squeeze into the bruising current,
forage on the riverbed.
The river says look me in the eye,
I will gently press you down,
hold you, feed you, take all you find here.
Bright water over bedrock, light bubbles
across the silver water-rush,
slower undertows of blue-grey and black.
Dippers, river and boulders are in alliance.
Someone’s shadow slides by.
Seagulls circle, klee-aw and mew,
white flags against a louring sky.
Storm morning Exmoor; granite thunderclouds
rip beauty from the gorge. Watersmeet
to the lower river reaches, rowdy ochres
swirl with umber, thick eddies of mud
treacle along the banks.
In the swell a dining chair heaves and pitches.
Floods surge like a deep lament,
wrestle the pastoral out of nature,
sweep trees, rocks and bodies to the beach.
A village drowns along the Lyn.
The river says swallow me whole,
place your heads between my stones,
lay heavy with water, debris, sod and root.
Time breaks onto this shore;
boulders to pebbles, pebbles to shingle
that rattles its bitter song under tides.
Toby Jackson has spent most of his professional life working in galleries of modern and contemporary artcurating public programmes and writing, mainly on museology. He has written poetry for most of his adult life and has had work published in a number of poetry magazines including Magma, Borderlines, Allegro, The Lake, Other Poetry, The Coffee House and Fire.