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From the kitchen door of the holiday let,

down the hill, over roof tops, on a clear day,

are the summits of the mainland’s mountains;

from the front door the gaol’s stone grey massif;

above the cottage’s small courtyard,

where the privy was and now are festive lights

and a hot tub burbling, is a square of sky.


Around the corner in Steeple Lane

high in the prison wall is a door,

with rivets either side to hold the scaffold

when it was needed. The condemned cell

led directly to the door. Witnesses

stood in the lane observing the drop,

just up the street from the bakery,

the old chip shop and the Chinese takeaway.

Behind its own high wall on Steeple Lane

the parish church clock strikes the hours.


The cottage was built before the gaol.

Hangings then were carried out at Gallows Point,

a low promontory in the Straits

where a boatyard and chandlery are now,

with a view of the peaks of the Carnedd range.


On the top of the thick stone walls of the courtyard

are red and white valerians and clusters

of elderberries. The wind tugs at them.

Suddenly, up in the blue, is the roar

of Hawks out of RAF Valley –

and then, in the slow silence regained,

the clatter of jackdaws, the mewing of gulls.




© Copyright David Selzer

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