by Ken Jones
Window filled with drifting cloud
Earth turns
the day hangs in the air

On the patterned tablecloth the patterned map. A wild, rolling upland, reinforced with sellotape along the folds. The scarcely inhabited parishes of Abergwesyn, Llandewi, and Llanfihangel - I roll them round my mouth. My boots replaced with a magnifying glass and my imagination freed by confinement, I can cross all three parishes between sips of coffee.
With a forefinger several hundred yards wide I push my way through dense green rectangles of sitka spruce. I follow my past along the pecked red lines of paths and bridleways, pausing at reminders in fading biro: arrows, crosses, ticks, question and exclamation marks.

Old age enjoyed
that tangled, wild-eyed word

A landscape rich only in place names, spread everywhere across the wriggling orange contours. Placeless place names, useful only to the long dead locals. The familiar Welsh of hill and pasture, stream and woodland, repeated over and over again. But now and again my wandering eyeglass pauses. Ty Harlot - some bucolic brothel? And Ty Saes - the Englishman's House.

Broken ribbed house
its staring windows
in the western light

Here's Moelprysgau, where I've passed many a haunted night. A sour, boggy place. Its broken fences wander aimlessly through the yellow grass, before losing themselves in blanket spruce. At least four recorded murders hereabouts, three by Evan Edwards. Stabbed his pregnant wife near Pen Bwlch Rhyd y Meirch. She'd discovered he was keeping a mistress down at Pontrhydfendigaid -- "The-Bridge- at-the-Ford-of-the-Blessed-Virgin".

Rising wind
the moonlit pines
mutter and screech

And yet the great Revivals those singing bands of men and women striding with their lanterns across my map. "Guide us O thou great Jehovah through our life's tempestuous sea."
This map once framed "an original race who had cultivated their own individuality from generation to generation without let or hindrance, and where every man, woman and child was an entirely new edition of humanity."

Remains of the day
all the potholes
filled with silver

The (unattributed) end quotation is from Ruth Bidgood's Parishes of the Buzzard (2000), p197.


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