100 Slices
Medium 9781847778512

Suicide on Pentwyn Bridge

Clarke, Gillian Carcanet Press Ltd. ePub

I didn’t know him,

the man who jumped from the bridge.

But I saw the parabola

of long-drawn-out falling in the brown

eyes of his wife week after week

at the supermarket cash-out.

We would quietly ask ‘How is he?’

hear of the hospital’s white

care, the corridors between her

and the broken man in the bed,

and the doctors who had no words,

no common supermarket women’s talk.

Only after the funeral

I knew how he’d risen, wild

from his chair and told her

he was going out to die.

Very slowly from the first leap

he fell through winter, through the cold

of Christmas, wifely silences,

the blue scare of ambulance,

from his grave on the motorway

to the hospital, two bridges down.

A season later in a slow cortège

he has reached the ground.

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Medium 9781847778512

Letter from a Far Country

Clarke, Gillian Carcanet Press Ltd. ePub

They have gone. The silence resettles

slowly as dust on the sunlit

surfaces of the furniture.

At first the skull itself makes

sounds in any fresh silence,

a big sea running in a shell.

I can hear my blood rise and fall.

Dear husbands, fathers, forefathers,

this is my apologia, my

letter home from the future,

my bottle in the sea which might

take a generation to arrive.

The morning’s all activity.

I draw the detritus of a family’s

loud life before me, a snow plough,

a road-sweeper with my cart of leaves.

The washing machine drones

in the distance. From time to time

as it falls silent I fill baskets

with damp clothes and carry them

into the garden, hang them out,

stand back, take pleasure counting

and listing what I have done.

The furniture is brisk with polish.

On the shelves in all of the rooms

I arrange the books

in alphabetical order

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Medium 9781857549867

Beginning with Bendigeidfran

Clarke, Gillian Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Beginning with Bendigeidfran

It seems to have begun with Bendigeidfran, the giant son of Llyˆr,

King of Britain, brother of Branwen. Calling into the dark cave of language brings his voice echoing back. His story, his rhythmic syllables, the imprint of his huge foot on the shore, and the rocking stone on the headland that was once an apple out of the giant’s pocket – these were the first stories located in a geography that was mine.

The sea lies a few hundred yards from the farmhouse door, just a breathless dash down the path, through a kissing gate and over a stile, and a final slide from the shelf of turf, too low to call a cliff, onto the shingle beach. The farm belonged to my grandmother’s family from before I was born until I was almost grown up. The path is a sandy track that winds between gorse and over two stiles to a small cove between cliffs that extend parallel arms northwestward into Cardigan Bay. Its black shingle, the grey Atlantic seals that swim in its translucent green waters, the strangely hollowed, footprint-shaped pool in a rock at the foot of cliffs close to the bay, and the story my father taught me to associate with it, have haunted me longer than almost any memory.

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A Journal from France

Clarke, Gillian Carcanet Press Ltd. ePub

Poems from Aubas, September 1979 

Somewhere in France (although I was navigator

I have no idea where it was)

we stopped the car on the straight road

running white between the tall corn.

We turned into a lane, a corridor

dividing the heat, marking its darknesses

with trees. There in the grass we picnicked.

There I was happy and you were not.

We had no names for the strange trees,

butterflies, the black and yellow spider

that ate the flies we startled into its trap.

In the silence we heard only swallows

and the hoarse, dry voice of the corn.

Later on that silent journey,

when I had forgotten how to be happy

so easily, and miles of innocent maize

had darkened in their own decay,

a red kite shadowed us.

Tonight in Aubas I can’t sleep

listening for the shriek of the kite.

About us in the hot, dark fields

each sunflower, chin on clavicle,

blackens, scorched in its own flames.

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Welsh Blacks

Clarke, Gillian Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

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