#DylanDay | ‘The Birthday Walk’ – Glyn Edwards

(In response to Dylan Thomas’ ‘Poem in October’)

 

The foreshore stirred in October sun

Though the harbour was stilled and flooded, the Grist slick,

The reedbed listened and understood

Jackdaws grieving

In the hollow castle,

Crows oiling rusted wings, dogs chewing their wet yards.

I’d returned to find you on your birthday month

But finding it hard,

Turned instead,

To tread the path around Sir John’s Hill.

 

Oystercatchers chatter on the marsh,

And little gulls gather up in boathouse glances

Of white against a grey-frowning sky.

The track climbs

Between half-clothed oaks,

My lungs lift, chest glowing like a robin’s scarf,

So I undress half, fold the wings of a wintry coat

Over my hooked arm

 And ascend

Wearily up through the torn tree line

 

Where the path hangs loose as gossamer

Beside the breathing-blue broad window of the bay,

And horseflies canter the dripping wood.

Hidden down

Low by tight-lipped boats

Church bells are counting and dog walkers loudly play.

Always, the hint of wind; always, the rumour of rain,

Always sunlight sewn

Up ahead

Illuminating the autumn browns

 

And in shallow cloud by quarry steps

Forget-me-nots rest gentle heads on meadowsweet –

While mine rests on colonies of words

You consumed

With your greedy tongue:

And repotted: sea-pink, Jack-by-the-hedge, windflower,

Or these marshes you mapped with your heart’s hand.

Kidwelli, Gower,

  All gone. Gone

        Back into the soil, the surf, the sand.

 

Yet the wood stays wet and the summit

Sings Carmarthen Bay as loud as the day you left,

Bold breeze rocks the teeth of wire fences

At the farm

Where dairy cows crown

The horizon like cairns, sentinel to no one,

Cold as the matchstick tower on Ginst Point staring

Out past emptiness.

 My gaze shakes

Ghostly egrets out over the Tâf.

 

And because you are not there, I sulk

Away from Pendine Sands, away from Rhossili

Down mud, hooved trail, shade, gorse, down, backdown,

Leaning lanes

Through resting rooves, rooks,

Past gable ends where watery chimes are taut gallows,

Hedgerows are abandoned nests and weathervanes

  Are seized in the quiet

 sunbleached

Nostalgia of your hunchbacked Laugharne.

 

As yellowed nails on hoar-grey fingers

The council estate cresting Gosport Street lingers

Like tarred memories of arteries you inhaled

 Lighting up

October birthdays.

Or the wax drip left at the lip of mussel shells

By birds on drained bays when they scoop out their music.

Wet routes are hollowed here;

Cleared of you.

Each year I feel your absence erupt.

 

Wales Arts Review described Glyn Edwards recently as one of the ‘most exciting young voices in Welsh poetry’. He is currently completing his debut collection, Conversations, that investigates both historical and personal responses to Britain’s most popular verse.

Copyright © Glyn Edwards, 2017. Image © Jo Mazelis, 2017.