The Secret Pages: Carneddau Hengwm

We left Mam at the car, walked past the farm;
your boots, veterans of Aran and Skye,
pacing six, and four in red wellingtons.
We climbed through thickening washes of mist
that closed down the sky, shrank the world.
The slab stone entrance crystallised from droplets.
We stood at death’s door. What if we get lost?
We’ll wave the red wellingtons like a flag:
Mam will see them through the fog and find us.

A week from the funeral, at Centre Parcs
I rode the concrete rapids after dark.
You were almost there; a nearly was
beyond the twisting light streams of the flume.
Had I my glasses, or looked hard enough,
you would have stood as firm as lamp or tree.
And not benign or evil; out of place.

Twenty years on, you and I climbed again,
my boots now scratched by Jugoslav karst,
back to the neolithic uplands.
Together we inspected the grey stone jambs,
the passage to the collapsed chamber,
an ossuary, a charnel selection box
where they laid and visited their dead.
They had a two-way traffic through the door
that we have marked, in bright red, ‘exit only’.

Notes:

Carneddau Hengwm: two neolithic chambered tombs which sit on the plateau above the coastal plain.

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