February 20, 2011


Dear Howard,
Life in this tough old valley follows its same old course.
The same old Afon Llwyd
Though the ‘llwyd’ is less industrial now.
I would like to say
‘Fresh from my stream of romantic conquests
I am taking the women of the vale by storm’.

I could settle with sigh, I suppose, and live with my past,
Marry one of the sisters’ friends.
Marry her then, you have to make do
(With clouds of white and dirty linen)
And teach the children to climb and reach
For that slag-heaped grey-sheeped mountain top
Where I went to school before them.
You have to learn to make do in the end.

Through numb and blackened hungover eyes,
I watch the weary sun rise
Over dancing daffodils mistily pale,
Pagan mirages amidst the trees,
Ghosts of the past hymned by the breeze
Over and over mountains that mark, settling with a sigh,
Deep-seated struggles long past.

There’s a lot of my mother in this poem. I don’t think I was the only one who had the (disappearing?) privilege of this sad conflict because of University. The first half of the last line is from my A level Geography notes. The penultimate line includes the word 'mark' which anyone who has played Rugby in the ruck and maul-rolling valleys will know allows its shouter a 'stop the world I want to get off' moment. Usually followed by a crunching late tackle from some human brick outhouse intent on keeping it less than detached.

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