At the top of Henlys Lane where it bends
to Llanfaes is an oak tree and a bench
with a view across pastoral fields
to the castle and, beyond the water,
Snowdonia. On this autumn’s first day –
here as warm and sunny as summer
but with a softer, fading light – we sit and talk
of our frequent, fifty year pilgrimage
to this coast and its sublime vistas.

Suddenly, we see what appears to be
smoke drifting up Moel Wnion’s mauve walls.
Binoculars and a setting sun reveal
a mountainous vein,



The bends are tight and frequent down the pass.
I can only glimpse the autumn colours
in the vertiginous valleys below.
There are reds and golds, you tell me, even
lime yellows – still deep and rich though mist falls.

Before the narrow track to the quarry
there is a lay-by. A father parked there
and murdered his children to spite his wife…
From somewhere out of sight multi-coloured
birthday balloons rise into the still air.

Though the way is well marked, the lessening
of the gradient relieves.



There is a silent magic here on this
wooded hill – despite the hiss of distant
traffic, the chink of halyards in the river
below, and, near but out of sight, dog walkers’
whistles, courters’ banter – a hush,
a stillness. Oak and beech and fern still
in rich autumn hues of gold and copper
obscure fawns and nymphs and wood sprites that
only the eye’s corner may glimpse. Light rain falls.
We hear it first on fallen leaves before
we feel it. There is enchantment here,
fear and joy,



Through a windy night, busy with fireworks,
we walk to Hoole community centre –
a Victorian elementary school –
for a friend’s fiftieth. There are songs
of love and heartache and hope. I watch the moon
white-faced move from pane to pane. My mother
and her two sisters were schooled here when the limes
in the yard were straight and slender. (My aunts
were destined for spinsterhood – one via
a married lover from Lockerbie –
my mother widowhood, her Jewish husband
buried in Ibadan). I imagine them
silent at their slates or skipping home
reciting loudly through the cobbled streets.