Archive for August, 2012


Ynys Goredd Goch, Menai Straits © Sylvia Selzer 2008


For Caroline Reeves


We pulled into the lay-by above the straits

so that our friend could see the view: Telford’s

iconic suspension bridge, beyond

the Carnedd Range and, below us, Ynys

Goredd Goch, Red Weir Island – a house,

out-buildings, disused fish trap, slipway –

surrounded by The Swellies, tidal whirlpools

and surges driven by the rocks and shoals.


A small crowd had gathered in the lay-by.

On the island, there was a smaller group.

Suddenly, there was the dull pulsing

of rotors. A Sea King arrived. Someone

in the crowd said someone in the crowd said

a drowning swimmer had been rescued

by someone on the island – and someone else

said the Sea King’s pilot was the heir to the

heir to the throne. How we do love the stuff

of legend! The swimmer, whoever he was,

was an ignorant fool. The pilot and crew,

whoever they were, were skilled, brave and selfless.




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And suddenly she is a hare, eyes bursting

with fear. Her husband snaps her neck. Fingers

smell of tea towels and dust. Their son gobbles

at her nipples, his father’s eyes unfocused.

She dreads the key in the lock. Sometimes,

she wakes to find him thrusting at her crotch.

She is a hare, paralysed on a cold,

edgeless ground…Even through windows stuck fast

with paint, dust whispers, gathering on lips.

If, like a surgeon, she were to cut him,

she would lay bare a pebble, smooth as glass,

nudging his heart. It is his ambition

sometimes to be a stone.




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Valle Crucis Abbey, Richard Wilson, circa 1760



Where willow stoops in curling shallows, May

stirs branches that creak like rigging or rub

like silk. The cuckoo sings its unsettling,

solemn roundelay. Sun gilds the abbey’s

west wall. The glassless rose window is a

blinded eye in a Romanesque skull –

indulgence in a wilderness. The Blood of

the Lamb coursed through the old ways of Keltoi,

Celtae, Celts. Time the dissembler leaches

the earth of language, artefact, intent.


A wall in the south transept was scorched by mishap

or mayhem. Dousing the flames, did the monks

break their vow? The Reformation empowered

even Trappists. Rulers destroy or endow

for glory. Defenders of parliament

effaced the cross (placed on a pagan mound)

carved to honour the Princes of Powys.

Even at the world’s furthest edge, even

beside an unkempt road through a valley,

was always a junction of opposites –

the classic, classical dichotomies

of the cerebellum and the soul, of

carapace and substance, tyranny and

learning. An oak tree, shaped like a brain, spins

the sun’s threads and is cleft, halved – fire and leaf.




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So many years of marriage should be marked,

they say, by china – the product, of course,

not the place. So a sturdy mug for us

from the Five Towns – or a translucent

teapot from Nanking? China, it is:

willows by a stream, a template of an

eastern Eden and, on the bridge, two –

or three? I know a better token.


Two pear trees in our daughter’s garden were

remnants of an orchard before the town grew.

A jasmine, a grapevine and the trees

had grown together in sure companionship.

With fruit (albeit a tad vintage!), leaves

for modesty, dappled shade in sharp sun,

rich perfume on a summer night, you –

a surely unbreakable paradise.




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I watch the three generations – mother,

daughter, grand daughter – walk, hand-in-hand, in

toddler steps, to the sea’s edge, and paddle

in the calm, beryl blue waters of the bay.

Opposite, along the Lleyn Peninsula,

over its mountain – The Rivals – with its

three summits, a white, single seater flies,

its engine echoing across this August day.

Laughing in the shallows, they have not seen it.

Their splashing drowns the sound of the plane

absorbed into the distant heat haze.

They turn and wave to me.  I am blessed

by their very existence – their joy

making ephemeral aircraft, mountain, sea.




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