Brandy Cove

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Brandy Cove

for my cousin
Frances
who lives in
Australia

I remember helping our nana
climb the steep slope
from the beach to the headland.

“It’s easy, nana,” I said. “Look!”
I leaped from tussock to tussock,
up the path, each patch of grass
a stepping stone leading me upwards.

She stood there, below me,
breathing hard, her left hand
held against her chest,
just beneath her heart.

“I’m catching my breath,”
she said, panting.

I ran up and down, then held out
my hand to help her.

It was so long ago.
Who now will hold out
her hand to help me
as I too age and grow
slow?

In Vino Veritas

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In Vino Veritas

Last year, on the road to Pwll Ddu,
I turned the steering wheel too fast
and almost rolled the car I rented.
My mother’s ashes were in the back.

I was driving my father to the Gower
so he could scatter them on the sea,
as she had requested. “Watch what
you’re doing,” my father cried.
“You’ve knocked your mother down.”

Now, as I drink to forget her ashes
tumbling around in their plastic urn,
I call you names. Crude graffiti clings
to the wall I have built between us.

Can you forgive me? In vino veritas,
said the ancient Romans, but truth from
a bottle is a double-edged sword cutting
both striker and person struck. My love,
I sense stark darkness within you. I see
black stars exploding to flood blue skies
with their inevitable ink. Can you feel
the instant hurt behind my eyes, like I
sense yours? Here, in one of our secret
gardens, give me the pardon I never gave
my parents. Heal the harm I’ve done.
Forgive me. Break the cycle. Set us all free.

Gower

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To Be Welsh in Gower

To be Welsh in Gower is to spell it funny
and pronounce it worse: Gŵyr.

It’s to know how to say Pwll Ddu.

It’s meeting the cows in the lane to Brandy Cove
and knowing them all by name and reputation,
which one kicks, which one gores,
when to walk in the middle of the lane,
and when to jump for the safety of the hedge.

It’s to know the difference between the twin farmers
Upper Jones and Lower Jones.

It’s to recognize their sheepdogs, Floss and Jess,
and to call them with their different whistles.

It’s knowing the time of day by sun and shadow.

It’s knowing the tide is in or out
by the salt smell in the air
without ever needing to see the sea;

and now, in this far off land,
it’s hearing your stomach growl
for caws wedi pobi, crempog or teisen lap
whilst memory’s fish-hook tugs at your heart

like your father tugged at salmon bass,
fishing from the sand-pebbled beach
at Rhossili, Pennard, or Three Cliffs.