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Cefn Gorwydd

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Cefn Gorwydd ( pronounced something like ‘kev’n guroo eth’ ) is the hamlet where we now live. It is strung along a high ridge between two ranges of upland : old mountains- some of the oldest in the world- the Cambrians and the Eppynt, once home to druid saints and radical preachers…

CEFN GORWYDD

Here we all are, eight in a row
Sight pinned to one view.
Welcomed by distance
Absorbed, belonged, threaded in.
Suspended in swift airs,
Slowly turned, become diaphanous in thought.

Vague only to the roaring loggers
Mumbling down to valley woods,
Vague to the laboured city breath.
Worn thin and cherished
On the sight of light and land,
On the crisp edge and whispered mists.

Folded in and waiting.
The mountains’ round names
Seeping into stilled minds,
Burned purple, stained grey, rubbed in gold.
The layered edge a lilting song
A yearn for valleys curling north.

We are named, but little, a scattered thing
Tumbled together by this or that.
Laid out in a neat line
Patted down, a pattern of years.
We become monastic, an inward road.
Going and returning slow step by step
Between a fuller season
And a perfect prayer.

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Small Moments

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In the mist at daybeak:
Ghost of whitened
mountain
Climbs thunderclouds.

Under eaves,
through slow rain spatter,
Small bats chase,
wings squeeking.

Still is the air.
We tumble
and totter
through space.

We are now such
A tower of cloud
And rain.

A roar,
A drumroll,
A whisper,
Percussed silence.

Leaving glistening
Green skin:
This world.

As she sleeps
I find her slopes
And gullies.
I love the
Familiar folds.
A rising mountain
I become
And she,
The deep greens
And valley dark.
No distinction:
One rising breath,
One landscape.
We, a loved land
Clouded and clear.

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RIVER FULL

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1
River full and woodsmoke

Days now, dark and fast as water
Flickering as night thunder

The houses and we shall huddle
Against the black slant of rain
Against the towering, swooping clouds.

Settling in the drift of slow, golden leaves
The bitter bite of brightest bramble
Aspen leaves, their last long laughter.

In the silver firs, on the church tower,
Jackdaws chafe and circle chatter
Wind skirls dancing, wet skirts slapping.

2
These mountains, worn low
Settled down, but content,
(As humans could never be),
Folded arms, their valley breasts.
A sharp-eyed, smiling mam,
Neat pinny fields, indulged with sheep.

3
I ride again the poetry road along a ridge of weather.
Words hovering, red and lithe as kite tail feathers
Tasting wet, west winds.
Hope and ambition, a stiff field thistle
Lasting out the slow rot to winter.
Wood will bend, sedge stand stiff,
A hard chew, a gristle is this cold tune.
Worn thin, the leaves rattle, a clatter of bones.
Death’s feet dancing to keep himself
Warm for hedgerow work.
Ghost cries of fox down in the valley wood
Disturbing warm-sided farm dogs, a howling choir.
Night and day, a scatter of starlight,
A tumble of rain.

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On the edge of the Brecon Beacons in mid Wales, Myddfai has long been associated with traditional herbal medicines. The story goes that a young farmer in the 13th c. was passing by small lake in the mountains above the village and fell in love with a fairy girl, the Lady of the Lake. Their descendents were renowned for centuries as herbalists. The line died out in the 18th century and are buried in Myddfai churchyard.

WITH THE YEWS OF MYDDFAI

Walking amongst the dead,
With the yews of Myddfai,
(And are we not always with them?
The left and the lost,
As they are with us always,
Whispers breathing cool).
Ground ivy sweet underfoot,
Plantain fragrant above their heads,
The soft, springing grasses.

Taken up, become trees,
Corded limb and leaf.
Holly, cherry, elder all
And the certain hope of yew,
Candle eternal, resurrected
On cross-beams of utter time.

Trees of blood, names forgot
Yet the throb of heart and cell
Pushing out from one likeness
Into a congregation of small sacraments,
(A blessing of toes and fingers
And round, pursed mouths,
An O, a cup, a small, red, sweet seed).

Trees of name and trees of memory.
A date of birth and a date of decease,
Only a short, curved line between
To measure each coming and going.
A start and an end,
A retrieval of mythology,
A reinterpretation of dreaming.
Thin lines of light,
Delicate mycelial wanderings,
Sole nutrient of futures
In sunless soil and sinless light.

A tangled commonwealth,
A last, shared supper.
The weeds of healing
Melting and rising upwards.
In late sun, (October now),
The wood is warm to touch.
Take time,
We say,
But they leave time alone
And live beyond our means.
We, with borrowed flesh and borrowed light,
Who give it all back
(Willing or unwilling),
To be born again,
To be built into another time,
Another place.
Vessels pouring into vessels,
A fall into grace.

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Little Llangammarch

LITTLE LLANGAMMARCH

Little Llangammarch under wood and under hill.
Not quite awake, not quite asleep,
Dreaming as leaves drift down.
One road, more or less, one shop, one bar, one hall,
A church, a chapel or two.
Time each day measured by two trains north, two trains south.

Toes wriggling always in Irfon and Cammarch,
(Where the two are met and knitted, a feathered mating).
Root or rock, I cannot say for sure.
This stone sheds syllables in flakes,
Prayers slurred, folded, forgot.
This root, iron red, waves wrapped,
Unworn, unmoved, on the hill above,
A saint’s house, stilled glory, skybound.

The swoop and quiver of the red kite’s call.
Shade-huddled sheep, the quiet of the field.
The past it grows thinner by the year
Lost for words, the long losing of names,
The who and where, the why weeded over,
The hero’s house, a longed-for truth
Scattered in byre and farmyard.

Between the open-eyed houses
and the river, still and low as glass,
Come tumbling flocks from the fields,
Down between the cars a bleating tide,
Chivvied, the bobbing, weaving dogs behind.

It hovers: the mountain silence.
They come and go of their own accord,
Leaving clouds and mist for a while, for a while,
Between what is left unsaid
And the slow rain.

Here below, where woodpeckers cling statuesque
and jackdaws skid and race
Like kids in playgrounds, cops and robbers,
Shootout at noon.
Here, in the fields again
The sheep wander as numerous as stars and as white.
The wind blows colour and light,
To and from the bluffs of Abergwesyn.
The rolling darkness, the quiet night descending
From the deep well of Cwm Graig Ddu.

Brecon Cathedral Yew Wood

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BRECON CATHEDRAL YEW WOOD

Dappled, the dead sleep
A slow, chimed crumbling.
A choir, a roof, are these yews.
Riven and sundered, tied back and bound,
Reworked, ribbed, buttressed.
They stand between the leaning,
Between the soaring: the lime,
The cedar, archangel sequoia -
All elders singing before the throne.
A hymn of jackdaw and blackbirds,
An antiphon of ivy dust.
Time riding heavenwards by degree,
Folded and sealed,
A shrouded, deeper silence.

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The Road to Llyn Brianne

THE ROAD TO LLYN BRIANNE

There are,
There upon the turning road,
Great stones that watch
Without eyes,
Deep gullies with secrets
But no guilt,
A green, lined knotting,
A measurement of altitudes,
A satisfaction of soughing,
Where the treetops pin cloud
And the loud, round thin
Cry of hawks
And the surprising gorse
And the dusty heather.

At this height
The still, silent, drowning waters
Are steel half polished,
The vowels of ice and aeons
Carved into old valleys
And the grey, cracked rocks
Peer out shaping wind and runnel,
A shelter for moss
And little things hardly cared for.

They are persistently hopeful:
These lone fishers for gold,
Generators purring
Sifting the blood of old mountains,
The dust of suns.

And the sheep
Nonchalent as philosophers,
And the swoop of druid crows
On the diving road,
Where distance is down.
The world curved
And marvellous.

Crisp, cusped,
Drunk on vast views,
Descending at last,
A road less laboured
Between blanketed green,
Behedged, somewhat planned,
The roll into town,
A reassertion of time
Into space.

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