Nights were light, nights were long back when the sun held on to all the skies unwilling to sink below mountains dark lines but darkness came all the same as it was bound to do each long day, as it must do each and every night when we were young and brightness filled our eyes
Standing with clouds it was a time of childhood a time of innocence of days walking hillsides and high mountains there was no other time there was no other place.
When did the beginning start to commence? When did the beginning alter its course change stop? When did the beginning of a story forget itself?
I stand here in the highest place when we were young it was a time when our dreams were golden your star brightened night skies your silence your absence now is a hurt I choose not to bear.
Old names have been deleted a constant pasting over of history that endless creep the landscape has lost a sense of itself blackened elder dip tipped branches bow into the rivers sweep floodwaters adorned stems with fluttering plastic waste brought from upriver towns to befoul ocean seas.
On the black grey slabs of Twyn Bryn y Beddau* we played the old games of hunt and seek watched from rushes deep channelled tunnelled walls of the old graves.
And the walled field Ffynon yr saith erw* remains silent while processions of white walk the hill to the statue of Mair*.
And the blood field of Brithweunydd* remains forgotten the death place of a prince.
Twyn Bryn y Beddau* means Hill of the Graves which in this case are megalithic ‘Round Barrows’
Mair* means Mary as in mother of Jesus — in this case, relates to the Statue of St Mary which was constructed in the early 1950s to commemorate the miracle of Mary and the be-jewelled and gold plated statue which was stolen by Oliver Cromwell. The original statue marked the place of a Miracle and was on the pilgrim route from Canterbury Cathedral to St David’s Cathedral.
Ffynon yr saith erw* means well of the six graves not in this case ‘Round Barrows’.
Brithweunydd* means stone littered or speckled place…
The late Oliver Rackham, world-famous authority on Trees and much more — in his authoritative book “The history of the Countryside” describe the South Wales plateau as an intact “funerary landscape” that had largely escaped the ravages of the Industrial Age. This landscape is the place I played and spent so much of my time as a child and teenager. It is the place where I live and still walk and write about.
Today the dream palace is being destroyed the place of dreams is being knocked down it was a palace where dreams were made love kindled love sparkled in the darkness
A dream palace with names that changed and changed again Royal Clarence Theatre, New Theatre, County Cinema, Bingo one hundred and thirty-one years it took to destroy the palace of dreams with bulldozers and cranes
Ten white birds fly out of the darkness Fly and fly and keep on flying out of the darkness
It was a place of meetings, of sharings, of kissing of arranging, of touching, of feeling, you know what I mean it was the only way people saw the world outside freedom but not free of the colonial sneer national anthem
It was the place to go on a Friday or Saturday night a place to hide out of the rain there was a lot of rain about a place to laugh a place to sigh to cry a place to cheer when the bad guy dies, a place for newsreels of the war
Ten white birds fly out of the darkness fly and fly and keep on flying out of the darkness
It was the place your father’s cousin, Ros, trod the boards before she went on to play with Lawrence and Norman with all those other famous names of stage and screen now she’s gone too, a small funeral in a covid year.
Ten white birds fly out of the darkness fly and fly and keep flying now they’re gone too.
The rows of seats lookout, keep staring out, keep waiting the screen is gone, the cascading curtain someone’s memory, the proscenium arch bricks and rubble, the seats lookout the seats look on, tomorrow they’ll be gone, the seats look on.
Ten white birds fly out of the darkness gone gone gone. The ten white birds are gone.
A Bulfinch pillar box red caught my eye fluttering helpless in the broad bean rows took to my open held out hand with no fight left opening its beak to weakly peck its only sign of resistance and with one last gasp took flight into the heaped bush where the Sparrow flock goes crazy at the intruder’s sorrowful mistake.
And so we shroud ourselves in Pilate’s cloak wash our hands of the stain of all responsibility and look out on this world with all the disdain the falsely blamed feel and what’s left — silence.