Posts Tagged ‘ancient yews’

The precinct of the Archangel
by the mill on a stream.
I remember it on a fast road
between the high red hills,
curling up, like a bow,
like a warrior’s cold, virtuous smile,
and circled there,
(as they are wont to do,
these fortresses of God),
bright as the rolling eye of an ox,
enclosed in gold, round and cursive on parchment,
certain and lofty as the eagle’s eye,
brushed by the winged feet of angels,
fast as swallows, lion-maned and roaring downwards.
A stream in righteous flood, founded and pierced
watching the long abeyance of old stones,
set to conquer and control in the name of an almighty
(who needs none of it, but will not, ever, say).

Perched above the ringed stones,
placed upon the circle, a squared house, holy upon holy,
holy with age, each forgotten, become green and softened,
their lichen-words married together,
one song become all together wrapped, and reaching trees
carrying the dead and their bones skywards.
Ring on ring, ground grain and chaff-free
by chapped, sinewed sure hands of time
and the endless flow of its river
and the grinding together echoing amongst the hills,
all heathered and blessed with sheep.

The fast road does not see but always curves past.
A million herded feet, a thousand whispered wheels
roaring past leaving this hushed wonder.
Circled circle, reiterating its roundness,
a mapped and renumbered holiness.
Tree and stone and church, the eternal stream,
the mill grinding out stars.
All, prisoners of patience guarding each the older guardians.
Tree and stone and church, where the dead congregate in their branches,
whispered in the long winds, the setting suns.

A pale sun rolls along the fields, a pale and pellucid fraction of eternity,
named and mapped in a honey tongue
pronounced slow and certain on a fast road between high red hills,
there for all to see in the green evening,
its cool, green shade, its many circled names,
its deep and darkening bed.


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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.


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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