For a new sequence on The Clearing to celebrate the publication of The Long Field, the author Pamela Petro invited eight writers, poets and artists to contribute pieces exploring hiraeth and hwyl, Welsh ideas, but rooted deeply in us all. In Vanish the poet Kathy Miles considers that most typical of Welsh weather, mist.
Some days the land is stolen from itself,
chimneys and slate roofs swallowed, village
and pit-head lost to this cold mouth of mist
as it muffles hymn and chapel bell, silences
the scold of crows that crowd around
the plough like a flock of ranting preachers.
It snags on fence and gorse, collects in hollows,
conjures rabbits secretly from burrows. Egrets
skim the river, small ghosts on gauzy wings.
Maps are useless now, in a world of blinded
signs. Mountains pull up roots, drift away
to the vanishing point like wandering erratics.
Fields’ old names have gone: Cae Gwair,
Cae Gwyn, Cae Derlwyn, their winter stubble
bleached to a wash of heron-grey.
Some days it comes in so densely, it seems
the dead have returned, cluster in damp
ranks, blowsy as hooped petticoats.
Here I am a slow dissolve; a disappearing
landmark in this place, where nothing is solid
or certain, not even the quiet constancy of flesh.
Kathy Miles was born in Liverpool but has spent much of her life in West Wales, which informs and inspires much of her poetry. She is the author of five books including Bone House and Gardening with Deer. Follow her on twitter: @kathym974.
The Long Field by Pamela Petro is out now.
The image at the head of this poem is by Pamela Petro.