(for Hilary)

Summer called me to its smouldering edges, to Crymlyn Bog. It was
the place where the stern men walked their sniffing dogs along the
canal, which to me was as dark and as deep as Hell. I heard the
sudden thuds of their heavy guns. I searched the ruined row of
unused cottages, where the tall jagged walls wore the green
chain-mail of ivy. The sun-poked windows choked on growths of
bramble, and the slabs of stone from fallen walls rested like the
graves in Danygraig Cemetery.

I crossed the dank bog of reeds, until I reached the drab land
below Kilvey. Dragonflies flitted through the bright morning, and
the sun tired me out and warmed the water. I scooped my palm to
catch the tiny silver fishes, the splinters of life like mad pins in the
pools. They darted in and out of my reflection. I lolled on the grass,
like Gulliver in my book, as sunlight masked my face and staked
down my dreams. It was easy to forget the sick-aired parlour, the
curtains closed on life, the old man shipwrecked with his death, and
the bedded drama of his grey breathless anger. It was easy to forget
my young war with words.

I strode like a giant across the hill. I walked with my elegies.
Below me, the Eastside spread out in its poverty and its poetry; and
the distant bay simmered in its silence, as I stepped down towards
the last page of a story.

Peter Thabit Jones © 2016

Published in BALLAD OF KILVEY HILL by Peter Thabit Jones, 1999