Inside the chamber each pattern is alight
as a strip of sun seeks damp shadow
within chiselled grooves to swirl the bright into black.
The light, deep inside the dark,
finds new routes across the rock,
each grain of sandstone is compressed time,
a salty fleck in a watery suspension,
moving within and across the solid matter
to restart and renew its shift into shadow.
The shadow becomes lit and the light
The stone is not inert
but processing the darkness, turning it back into
light, light turning back into dark,
as years spiral onwards and into the rain,
prescient on the horizon,
grey cloud about to burst with this moment
woven and weaving one day to the next.
Amongst the junk I find sleepers for struts,
tongue and groove floor and roof,
sturdy four by fours for corners. A broken
ladder. A circular saw.
A summer’s work for a man with hands
that turn pages and chop onions. All this flotsam
reassembled. An HQ for gangland.
A still point outside the scatter and cacophony.
As I hammer and heft I think of
blackberry bushes, secret dry nettled ditches,
spaces where we used to play
imagining ourselves heroes, spies,
soldiers who never died. Captain Scarlet!
Blisters and calluses appear where
my fingers meet my palm. My arms grow tense
and sore. By summer’s end I feel worthy, a better man.
I do it for them. The children aren’t so sure.
“Cool” they say, and go back in.
THE DREAM OF RHONABWY
of snake-eye gorse
river-crossing nearing warrior
whose hair shines yellow as broom
our blunt-fronted shuttle
thrown down and back
and down along a winding
path through hedgeparsley
pull upstream of plain pool
agile defender’s sudden cage
glimmer, then glitter, glint
in perfect cones of graded coal
nearby toothy elevator
reed eyot below the ford
let play let
enabled awhile raven
(security) to operate unseen
along the old line
where sealed shut meanders
dust of golden chessmen squeezed from his fist
sandbar out of muddy flow fish spawning shelter
and parishes farms
where escapees and
lingerers scrape by
chink in armour peak
select each moment which
facet which descent
ELEANOR REES is the author of numerous books. Her pamphlet collection Feeding Fire (Spout, 2001) received an Eric Gregory Award in 2002 and her first full length collection Andraste’s Hair (Salt, 2007) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Glen Dimplex New Writers Awards. Her second collection Eliza and the Bear (Salt, 2009) is also a live performance for voice and harp which has toured in the North West. In 2015 Eleanor published her third full-length collection Blood Child (Liverpool University Press/Pavilion, 2015) and a long pamphlet Riverine (Gatehouse Press, 2015).
TIM CRESSWELL has been widely published in poetry magazines in the US, United Kingdom and beyond. He has poems in, for instance, The Moth, the Rialto, the North, Magma, Poetry Wales, Riddlefence and The Kudzu House Review. His collections, Soil and Fence were published by Penned in the Margins (London).
RALPH PITE teaches English Literature at the University of Bristol. He is the author of numerous books, including Thomas Hardy: The Guarded Life, and is currently writing about the poets Robert Frost and Edward Thomas. His collection of poetry, Paths and Ladders, was published in 2003 by The Brodie Press.
Illustrations by DESDEMONA MCCANNON, illustrator and Senior Lecturer at the Manchester School of Art. Desdemona’s artwork can be found here.