Beckford Packhorse Bridge
History is written in the soil.
Hands, hearts and lives devoted to toil.
A tale of labours sold far and wide
Like fossils, the detritus of history
lie abandoned, neglected and lost.
Skeletal buildings, ghostly stone relics
that whisper from the undergrowth.
The packhorse bridge, centuries old
lies in close communion
with its modern brethren, built to take
modern tractors and their loads.
The dainty stone bridge stands, still waiting
to take the sheep to market
beside the whispering trees.
Yarty Valley, once rich in flax, wool, and butter
would see the crop on its journey
to Axminister market, then yarn mills
making rope and twine to sail the sea.
Men of war sailing the seas.
Fishing barques, keeping within the horizon.
Sails and ropes whispering to the rolling clouds.
London-bound across the packhorse bridge
not the common household cheese,
but Membury cheese, rich and prized.
Butter from the churn, rich and salty
watered down, refined for genteel city tastes.
Packhorses skirting Stonehenge,
its stones lisping across the plain.
A steeply rising spine of cobbles
keeping the cargo fee of the Yarty’s
cold, flinty water, sparkling in summer,
moodily silty in winter,
leaving shingle banks, and later,
ox bow lakes shaped like fish,
beached and gasping a whispered death.
The packhorse bridge narrows the way,
constraining the land as if a corset
before ballooning once again
across the map.
It sleeps now, its job is done.
Its time of work, now done
leaving it to breathe the gentle Devon air.
12 April 2021. 4:53 p.m. – 5:25 p.m.
Isolated wintry showers. Mainly dry. 0% moon..
For Architecture evening ECPG.