Tag Archives: Wales

Tempest

Storm winds and rain still coming from the west;
don’t venture out if you’re not fully dressed.

Say what you like about storms, wind and flood,
they only leave heartache, and debris, and mud.

Monday morning, drab and drear,
Waiting for the sky to clear.


Responses to flooding from Storm Dennis around St Valentine’s Day

#CoupletsForBreakfast

First snow

Foel Cwmcerwyn

Foel Cwmcerwyn, the highest point in the Preseli Hills, Pembrokeshire, after a fall of snow

Overnight the snow fell softly, steadily, remorselessly. In the early hours of the morning she awoke, confused by how hushed everything was. It was as if time had stopped and her bed was floating in a bubble that was her room.

She slipped out from under the duvet and into her slippers, and padded over to the window seat.

Flakes floated past the pane, then more, and more, and still they came. She knew the covering would be thick in the morning. Though, come the dawn, the house would be even more isolated, for now she felt cocooned, insulated even — insulated from outside interference, noisy visitors, passing traffic.

If she stayed awake she would go down later, light the kitchen fire, perhaps let the hens out early. But for now she would take in the unearthly light reflected off the settling snow, bask in the stillness, watch the frozen sky feathers floating down onto the vast white coverlet.

Later the phone would ring and she would ignore it, and if it continued she would take the receiver off the hook.

At present she would contemplate eternity for a while longer.

Continue reading

Red coats

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) [photo: Jonn Leffmann, Wikimedia]

In his dirty russet coat he must have sped
across the field earlier, but we will have missed him.
But we know he will have passed because,
look, there are the beagles streaking to the corner
diagonally opposite the gate by the road.

Now we hear the imminent clatter of hooves,
the baying of hounds, the distant bark of voices;
and now proud riders in their cherry-red coats
engage in much discussion. We sense their confusion,
their pent-up frustration, for the way
to field and adjacent common is barred
by padlocked metal gate.

They mill around, pack and riders alike;
who can fail to be impressed by smart uniforms,
the chestnut horses and tricolour hounds?
The heart may swell slightly, witnessing
a tradition spanning generations,
scarcely changing, sealed for centuries
in collective memories.

And yet, are these not the Wildean unspeakables
in pursuit of the uneatable? Are vixens vermin
to be exterminated in a ritual slaughter,
all in the name of countryside custom?

For now, I am grateful to those others
– we shall not speak their names –
who saw fit to chain their gate
and so gave Mr Fox unforeseen egress
to fields, freedom, and family.


Poem written for creative writing class assignment, Writing Ecology

Myth-laden

Golden Mile in snow

Turn left, towards the west,
in a quarter-mile turn right towards the north
onto the Golden Mile (a straight track
half a mile up, turn about, half a mile down).

Stop, look! see there,
rising high a third of a mile
into the sky, now grey-shrouded,
Foel Cwmcerwyn (that is, the Hill
by the Coombe, hollow like a Cask),
a white whale in winter, green pillow in summer,
legend-saturated, myth-laden, tale-clouded.
Here, near the summit cairn, the mighty Arthur
hunted the giant boar Twrch Trwyth and his piglets.
The blood of Arthur’s followers flowed
down the barrelled vale, steeping the earth,
slaking a ground thirsty for stories
to satisfy the land’s lonely soul.

Now, back at home, turn right for one half-mile,
then left towards the north again,
down twisty turning lanes and see!
see there, along the Preseli ridge,
advancing slowly, stealthy silhouettes
of walkers, soldiers – Arthur’s men,
silent, almost standing still –
Cerrig Marchogion, the Stones of the Knights they are,
a phalanx of sky-hued bluestone pillars
hewn, as it were, by age-old glaciers.
One hundred centuries ago south the ice sheet marched,
then retreated, scarring the battlefield, abandoning
battered bodies, leaving a landscape as bare as bone.

Not quite bare: down, under the ridge,
below unseen Bedd Arthur — Arthur’s Grave –
loom Cerrig Meibion Arthur, the Stones of Arthur’s Sons
slain by the merciless twrch.
Sentinels, they serve as signposts
directing the curious traveller to a land made fertile
by febrile human imaginations, peopled by figures
larger than life, stirring the modern mind
with wonder and, perhaps, an elusive wisdom.

Foel Cwmcerwyn, Preseli Hills, Pembrokeshire

Equinox

The river’s breath creeps up
and beyond the bedroom window.
We awake to luminous daylight
on the first day of autumn.

But my mind goes back
to a different bedroom,
a different window,
a view blanked out by a white blanket
which, slowly clearing, reveals
our field, the bordering trees,
the sight of more fields
sloping to the south,
to the distant unseen sea
and its deserted beaches.

Unseen too are the late ripening blackberries,
the vixen looping along the hedge,
pausing to listen for a hoped-for prey.
Unseen are the screaming swallows
for they have departed their cowshed beams,
their third brood fed fat by the bounty
hovering above the cut hay meadow.

Here, the mist is thinning
now, drifting from the panes
outside our bedroom’s windows.
The leaves are dropped from the copper beech at the churchyard’s margin,
the dried fruits are falling from the ornamental pear
and we, like butterflies fluttering
a last hurrah in the shed,
lie wriggling, cocooned in our soft sheets
contemplating the future,
the passing of the seasons and the day
when the sun will again stand still.


Poem written for a creative writing task on ecology

views

hills

peak views: north and east
mountains, south and west islands
three countries from one

View of Foel Cwm Cerwyn from home

From the top of the Preselis you can see Snowdonia and the Black Mountains of Wales, Lundy and Devon in England; far to the west on a clear day the Wicklow mountains of Ireland are visible