The path zigzags upwards to the keep, like
smoke or a hare hounded. Magpies lowfly
the gorse, bank to a clump of pine, barks pink
as coral. Ravens wheel. Birds and the wind
disdain the ruins peasants carted, raised,
razed and thieved. Before allegiances, walls
was this hill, that vast, limestone precipice
and, everywhere, silent, ancient waters.
Whoever sees the turf worn with walkers’
traffic and earth’s crust shining, whoever
looks across the vanished sea to the cliff’s
myriad catacombs will imagine the hoe
snick in the furrow, the clangour of arms
and the chough’s triumphant croak.
Defenders, tousled on the battlements,
watched fields sown, leaves fall, expected Saxons.
Foes were covert. A viaduct terminates
the valley and trim, mechanical
dynasties converge on the smoky plain.
The journey from Powys to the Five Towns
was all of sixteen leagues, as ravens fly,
a thousand years and such optimism.