Saturday, 25 October 2014

Life Lines

A door out of the dark ... Ty Newydd
Life runs at a faster pace than blogging. That’s my excuse. Even so, I’m shocked that I’ve yet to blog about what’s been going on. The visit to Little Gidding in the summer, Farrar House closed ‘due to illness’ and the church all to myself and a copy on the pews of The Four Quartets. I read the poem aloud, like liturgy, all abuzz with déjà vu and the cadence of it. To know the place for the first time.

Nor have I mentioned another Nantwich win – second prize this time – with my Aberfan poem (anniversary this last week) Sixty Six.

Nor have I written about the Fellowship of St Alban & St Sergius conference and the visit to the Orthodox monastery at Tolleshunt Knights.

I’d not yet published a link to the University of Chester publication from the High Sheriff’s Cheshire Prize.

Or the week’s Master Class at Ty Newydd, now just (as we used to say in South Wales) with Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker and some exceptionally talented participants. What a great place and some terrific people! Sean Borodale breezed in for a reading from Bee Journal and his latest collection.

'The mountain sheep are sweeter ...' no, it's one of mine this tiime
I remember Gillian Clarke from school, when she came in to give readings and then took up her first ‘residency’ – an unusual thing in those days, particularly for a ‘bog-standard comprehensive’ like ours. She remembers us two – identical twin curly-headed boys, rusty blond. My brother recited The War Song of Dinas Fawr for some French visitors, dressed in an old sheepskin rug. When her husband, David Morgan, arrived on the last evening he took one look at me and said, ‘The mountain sheep are sweeter ...’

People still can’t tell us apart.

Sure, I put these things on Facebook but it’s about time I blogged them here.

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

I’ll try to be quicker next time - our 21st wedding anniversary just gone, our visit to Italy to see Kat, working as an au pair.

Here’s Sixty Six to be going on with:


Words spill from the radio to pool
on the hearth mat. The slow, backward
grate of the chair legs speak for his father –
sitting with them before a later shift –
as he leaves mug and plate, lifts
the latch on the cwtch to fetch his cap,
boots, spade. They watch him join
the fist of men already clenching
in the street,  glance as if to fix
them in the door-frame then turn to trudge.
There are clumps and knots of neighbours
climbing. It is then he feels his mother’s fingers
press into his flesh with a painful love,
as though for those others, scrabbling
with only their nails into spoil and slurry
before his father joins them, delves

with his shovel deeper into the dark.