I have a friend and neighbour, John, who is a sheep farmer, with a flock on Carningli. His family have lived there for many years.
From time to time I adopt my temporary guise as #theoccasionalshepherd and help him with sheep related duties. For me, it is one of the greatest pleasures of living here in Newport, Pembrokeshire.
Two or three times a year a group of local people, often graced with the presence of Anwen and Chris, help John,and his sister, Aeres , to gather the sheep off the mountainside. Until this spring we also always had Aeres’ husband, Granville, with his ever gracious smile, care and concern for all, and delight in the mountain and all it’s ways.
Sadly (an understatement if ever there was) Granville died in May this year. This poem is for him, for Aeres, Anwen, John and Chris, and for all who help out this delightful family. It comes with love.
We are walking the old ways
Bracken snatching at our heels
Stone stumbling across the narrow tracks
The sun on our backs
Feet sinking occasionally in rushwards marsh
Sticks swishing bramble, as we make the pass
Larks rising abundant, trilling
A red kite patrolling the sun split skies
Crows flap, unwilling, it’s all a bore
Quite sure, they’ve seen this all before.
Is that a rock, recumbent?
Or a ewe, two lambed
Blue hooped, bread rolled, sometimes sooty from burnt gorse
Woolly marshamallowed, on matchstick legs
Stirring grumpily from a sleepy hollow
Answering the call
Her Master’s Voice
As John whistles, shouts, limbers, long shanked
Carningli’s highways and by ways
On the back of his hand
Whilst we follow, as best we can
Shepherding by osmosis
To the sheep, his tones, distinctive
The flock moving on demand
Alive to his ever familiar command
Sweating slightly with the July heat
The Bay below,
Curtain called velvet blue,
The sky frames paper triangled sailing boats at play
Church and castle
At our feet
Maybe they hear us working?
In the graveyard, the tall trees bend to listen too.
Now we turn, the flock funneled towards homecoming fields,
Sweet grassed, comforted, steadfast and settled
A few rebels
Break for the mountain
But are black bag flapped through the 5 bar gates
Baler twined and strung in
Scurrying, heel kicking, stream leaping
To dot the meadows
An Impressionist painting for the Pembrokeshire hillside
Above beach, and town
Seeping sandy time and tide.
We leave, turn away
Even though there’s more, much more to do
(Shearing, dipping, marking, treating)
But maybe not today
For even farmers
Have to play
Leave the flock to graze
To raise the bleating clarion call
Dawn to dusk
By night, by day.
The wind, sweet heather breathed, new credential
Steeps and gusts above Stone and Castle Hill
Sighing gentle benediction
The Gathering complete
Under John’s direction
Yet we all missed one element, essential,
It leaves us, still,
Our friend, coralled, slumbering long, elsewhere
And now the feathering breeze
Whispers one name
“If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry” Emily DickinsonPosted: May 9, 2019
My grandmother ( the angel upon my shoulder) always used to tell me that the first word to say, on the first of each month, was Rabbits. I don’t know where this tradition/ superstition came from, nor why our lop eared friends were chosen but, whenever I am up early ( as I am this May Day, 2019) and listening to the silence outside, I think of our beloved Eleanor Alice, and, in good faith, I whisper the word…..
Would that my grandmother were alive today
As Pembrokeshire awakens to this year’s May Day
That’s the very first word you must say.
And my spring time wish for you?
And freedom of spirit
Accompany you all
Upon your way.
Like so many people, across the world, I was shocked and saddened by the images of this famous and beautiful building being consumed by flames. Forest fires can cleanse and purge, regenerate. Maybe President Macron’s pledge to rebuild will materialise. I hope so. But the building is so much more than that. It is a collection of memories, stories, hopes and fears, intrigues, plots, births, marriages, deaths and funerals. For many, a house of God, for some, a box ticked in the tourism guide, and for all, a centre for humanity. So this, in memoriam….
The building falls
Enflamed at the last,
The spire, hunch backed, then broken.
The world exhales,
A collective gasp,
A sob, a tear,
The siren shriek.
A fiery breath roars skywards.
What’s gone from here?
An icon, yes.
A feature, a show,
Somewhere for hordes of tourist to go,
The chatter, clatter, camera whirl,
Babble, rabble, rainbow guided swirl,
Notre Dame, an oasis perhaps, in this,
Our restless, curious, irreverent world.
(Believers came here too. Who knew?)
More than this though,
Sparks stumbling the night sky,
And thus, atomised
Learning to fly :
The church embattled
Across the years.
As the structure breathes its last
The symbol sighs
The crowds groan, moan, mourn this troubling
Aloft, the smoke belching
Fire fuelled repast
The bell no longer tolls.
The silence is that of the bombed out building,
The ghetto razed,
Au revoir, divine.
Our mutual loss?
The whispering echoes of time.
The hummingbirds are back
And all is well
They flew across the Atlantic with us
They’d sprung from besides the Grand Canyon
They saw us through Bryce, Zion, Salt Lake City
They didn’t know
They travelled in a suitcase
Months later we flagged them up
And they’ve floated serene
Above the Bay, spinning soundlessly
Morfa, Dinas Headed,
That’s where they’ve been.
We’ve been all at sea
Whilst they, dust dogged and long winter bedraggled
Were caught up in decorators detritus
Neglected and unseen.
Indifferent to all the noise and chatter of this troubled globe
We reinstated our duly mobile birds
Fee flowing silhouette
Then sun burst on
Our newly pristine wall
As the chaos continues
The world may yet fall
But the hummingbirds are back
Our slice of the picture sits well
And that’s all.
A Christmas message, from my ALLTIME favourite author!
I would like to wish a VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS to all my friends, readers and blog followers.
2018 has been a good year for me on the writing front, with lots of acclaim for my wartime LAVENDER ROAD novels, and several of them hitting the best seller charts. All six books are now out as paperbacks, eBooks and audio books worldwide.
For those of you who have read the Lavender Road books there is still the option to have a go at SLICK DEALS, the adventure thriller I wrote a while back to amuse my husband, which is set in Monaco, France, London and lovely Pembrokeshire where we live. For the more romantic of you there is also THE ART OF LOVING, a light romance set in Germany, which launched my writing career so many years ago by getting me short-listed for the RNA new writer award!
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