Tuesday, 20 September 2011

For the Men of the Gleision Colliery

Still trying to get a handle on watercolour 
I started to doodle calligraphic marks with a fine brush
and a lovely inky colour
mixed from ultramarine and burnt sienna.

I soon realised the emergent schema was born out of the dry stone walls 
of my beloved homeland of Wales.

Truth to tell even now after almost 40 years
living away from the hills of home
I still carry the ache of longing  the Welsh call hiraeth:
which can only be translated approximately 
as a deep yearning for home.

Even now every distant dog barking instantly transports me
to the place where it is the sound of farm dogs 
calling from the opposite side of the valley.

As I dabbled on with the subtle tones of the watercolours
I re-walked the Cefyn road;
a road flanked by the old stone walls, that heads over the top of the hill
to fall into the valley village of Hafodyrynys,
past the old farm of Ty Sammy where my father was reared,
and the chapel of Cefn y Crib where both he and Mam rest now.

Through the ache of memories came this other more recent ache,
for the miners,and families of those killed and injured
at the Gleision Colliery,
in the Swansea Valley.
Every mining community, of which mine was one,
knows the heart stopping danger of men working
in the low, wet, narrow seams
of the Welsh coal face.

   I offer these words I wrote some years back, now in memory of
  Charles Breslin, Phillip Hill, Garry Jenkins and David Powell
who lost their lives in the Gleision,
with the prayer that they have found their longed for home at last.


The wind is sloughing through the curtains.
Hearing it I am no longer
in this house with the neat garden
And the traffic hum
sounding from the by-pass.
I am somewhere along the valley top,
Along the lane,
or in some room that opens,
(no matter how dark in itself)
onto the shining light of the hills.

And I myself,
The real and inner me,
is soaring out there
among the creaking branches
on the bare hill top.
Dry and rustling in the reeds;
soft and sighing in the grasses;
chuckling sinuous in the streams.

And it is all me.
And freedom is  in the sound.
My one true breath.
Wider than the world.
Higher than the sun.
Weightless as a life
held here no more.


Perhaps you could also join me in praying,
in whatever way seems good to you, 
for the 3 miners who were rescued  and will be suffering in their own unique way.

God Bless

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