Caught by the River

Estuary: Part 3

22nd August 2015

An extract from Estuary, a collection of essays by Lydia Fulleylove

Night Walk
Dusk, low tide, we’re still sealed in the car…when look, there in the mud, black-tailed godwits, dot, dot, dot, piercing mud-skin, all bills and legs. Their reflections waver, they lift flat webbed feet which sink out of sight when they stand still.

We walk down-river, dark thickening. Past Long Ground, King’s Field, Home Ground, we edge round the back of the farm, onto Estuary Moor, where Thor the orphan ram-lamb, skitters behind the four big rams, three with tight-spiralled horns, one with a single swoop. Their slant eyes glow, they square up to us, then sheer off into the dusk. Beyond the wooden fence, the faint glitter of salt-marsh pools.

Through the farmyard, past the empty barn, past Creek Field, Hebridean sheep in black huddles, we blunder in closing dark into the copse and out onto Redlake where the whiskery wild bird fodder ghosts up among the thistles.

Through the tight gap in the blackthorn onto the salt-marsh, purslane crackles underfoot, reeds hiss, river channels finger mud, make tiny lappings against Yarmouth’s clatter, hustling up on the wind. And always, east-nor-east, beyond the river, beyond the woods, the two red masts glare. Masts, marsh, masts, marsh. In daytime they can be forgotten, at night they punctuate the sky.

We follow animal tracks to the edge of Pipe Creek, glasswort creeps down the bank onto the mud, the river lit by silver grey light, sky ribbed like sand when waves have left it, a bandaged moon. The creek rises, catching clouds and banks in its glimmer. The pipe stalks across on stiff legs.

Back, through the copse, stumbling over the ditch, through tangled branches, glad of no torch, searching out soft dark, plunging in when we reach the spinney behind the farm, surfacing as the yellow lights of Freshwater burn beyond the path ahead, diving again in the churchyard, among yew trees and foot-felt grass paths.

Lydia Fulleylove is an author and poet. Estuary is available to purchase here.

Previous posts from Estuary.