Prayer For Abercynon

Running the field of fern
Where there are no paths
Ferns high above the head
Running blind
Skipping tussock and rock
Like a deer
Racing headlong
Down the mountainside
And coming up
Where grass resumes
Breathless above
A dry-stone wall

And years later, as adolescents, climbing
Back up to First Peak
From where you can see
Down the valley
How the river disappears
Past the small round rocks
That found a beach of cobbles
In the hook of the river
Under the eyes of the coal tips
That focus to the sea
The shaft of the glimmering river
Drawn from the quiver
Of Cardiff Bay
And fired away

I thought only of land without demarcation
No system of ownership and fences
Far from the ribbons of patchwork terraces
That so shame the valley
I could hardly admit
That I belonged to it

But now with Holland like a chain around my neck
That lush land too
Rank for the seed
With its vertiginous need
For comfort and certainty

I look back to the country
Where atrophy stares from the face of every man
Their lives on the torn streets
Of grey stone and slate
Amongst dilapidated churches, pubs and Workman’s halls
Are lit only by the reflection
Of their technological
Recreation

And though each generation
Dies back
As waste flesh
Into the dark ground
Where the seeds scatter
Or the new shoots wither
It is for want of belief only
Belief like water falling
On the sleeping ground
Water untainted by the lies
Of the coin and the cross
And the sense of failure

And though the winds blow vile on the mountainsides
And on the houses below
Where the villagers shelter
Let their lives flame
With a simple pride
That the river may once again
Bring life
For this is not dead ground
This is fallow ground