The Secret Pages: Capel Siloam

The spring of Siloam, whose water washed
the spittle-mud that Jesus used for sight,
sprang out again on Beach Road, Barmouth,

as the non-conformists remade the Land of Promise,
each band – Presbyterians, Congregationalists,
Calvinistic Methodists – building their own Zion.

In manhood I take the steps, the welcome,
the hymnbook, the recognition as your son,
and shuffle into a waist-high pew-pen.

My harp hangs with those of the shrinking remnant,
all stranded on the high tide line by faith’s
melancholy roar, the flood long decades past.

September holidays went on outside;
the eulogy rehearsed your methodical maintenance
of Zion, probing a basement beam for rot.

We followed you to Llanaber. Left you there
and went to Christ Church’s school room where
the ladies of the church provided tea.

Notes:

Capel Siloam. Siloam Chapel. Siloam: John 9:1-7 and the hymn ‘By cool Siloam’s shady rill …’ Harps: Psalm 137:1-4. Melancholy roar: Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach: ‘The Sea of Faith/ Was once, too, at the full … but now I only hear/ Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar/ Retreating to the breath/ Of the night wind …’