#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
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,
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
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.
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
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
With your greedy tongue:
And repotted: sea-pink, Jack-by-the-hedge, windflower,
Or these marshes you mapped with your heart’s hand.
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,
Through resting rooves, rooks,
Past gable ends where watery chimes are taut gallows,
Hedgerows are abandoned nests and weathervanes
Are seized in the quiet
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
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 (to be published by The Lonely Press), that investigates both historical and personal responses to Britain’s most popular verse.
Copyright © Glyn Edwards. Image © Jo Mazelis.