MARCH

It is almost April, but the day before
yesterday hail spattered on the pavings,
lightning fell like a branch, thunder resounded
across the city and the comedy dog,
from two doors down, did his hoarse yip, yap, yap yip.

Yesterday, an east wind shuddered
the cherry blossom and blew the bees awry
and I thought the seasons disjointed.

Today, white blossom and apple-green leaves
formed a bright canopy – and I remembered
a year ago not twenty miles from here
were snowdrifts waist high and tall trees felled.

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MERCY

The now westering sun illuminates
the serried galleries of discarded slate.
There were once three thousand quarrymen
and ‘The Great Strike of Penrhyn’ – a three year
dispute. The owner, Baron Penrhyn,
built terraced houses with front gardens
for the few who had crossed the picket lines.
The first chapel was named ‘Bethesda’ (Hebrew
for ‘house of mercy’) – after the Roman bath,
near Jerusalem’s Sheep Gate, where ‘the man
was made whole and took his bed and walked.’
They named the slate town after the chapel.

As we drive on up the valley to the pass,

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THE CIRCUS HORSE

… inflated, a fiver, Made in Spain, bought
with candy floss and a fluorescent snake;
harness, saddle, accoutrements in red
and gold with tassels; caparisoned as if
for the Spanish Riding School in Vienna
or the corrida; forever prancing
with a winsome, vulnerable chestnut eye
but, though deflating, still too big for the long
drive south so left with us for safe keeping…

It rides unseen in the gazebo – secure
from downpours or gusts or jackdaws – becoming
one dimensional. Perhaps we will
frame it as a keepsake.

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THE SOLITARY ANGLER

The fog bell sounds every thirty seconds.
A shag bobs in the swell by the lighthouse
painted black and white with the legend
‘No Passage Landwards’ on its east and west sides.
An occasional heavy wave thumps the beach.

I climb the high bank of sea-smoothed pebbles
from the landward side and hear and feel them
chafe and slip. At the seaward foot of the mound –
a petrified wave three times my height –
an angler stands, motionless, his rod propped
on a tripod, the line taut in the tide.

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SPRING, AFON MENAI

High waters from each end of the straits
meet here in whirlpools, in vortices
of current and spume – that at their highest
cover the island, which weathers each maelstrom,
and flood its improbable cottages.

***

A little inland along a banked lane,
lambing ewes are in a field. There are
a dozen or so, some birthing, some with young.
We look over the bank, startle a ewe,
intrigue her offspring. Mother moves off,
child follows. The grass is cropped, springy.
The recent storms have felled an oak that lightning
had blackened and eviscerated years ago.

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