Monday, 29 October 2018

The god of Kilvey Hill

The god of Kilvey Hill

School boys did, as school boys did then,
away hell leather to the heather hill
of a Kilvey hare raised and running 
from their lay in the grass where still be still.

And the boy leaps over scrubbed doorsteps,
reflecting Brasso brasses and more besides,
runs from the stone home, the coal smoke hanging,
past the slag tips shining black, and bloody more insides.

Going up the hill ‘like’, fast as Luther,
to pin his ways upon the sky.
To reach the engine shed, blue in briquettes, 
from what the buckets carried, and why,

his father had pencil drawn the old wires,
strung over their pulleys mighty high
upon the engine shed, and culvert tipping
all the slag of that’s why, that’s why

the tips have grown, but fail to conquer,
the pollen around his heather shoes,
deep and dusty fast as hares,
upward, upward, up he goes.

Past the football field, marsh as offside,
past the east fields barbed wire cows.
Past the two marshes cotton white in grasses,
with their bomb craters filled with water now.

Sedge edged and floating footsteps dare
peer pondweed downward at monster larvae,
eating our eyes out in its wondrous depths;
that German bombers kindly dropped awry.

Soaking in wet socks and hasty steps,
to walk the ‘Roman’ wall, from the half way,
to the windmill, wretched atop of Kilvey hill;
to drink the brouhaha across the bay.

There, see, Swansea docks, under Swansea bay,
Danygraig cemetery looking beyond eternity
at ships, and cranes, and docked trucks of coal;
he saw them all, laid out in time’s indemnity

at the edge of his schoolboy escapades;
skulduggery, above the drudgery, of the village
still in the valley beneath his feet, just there.
But his is not a pilgrimage,
but a biting off of the Atlantic air,
that burnishes wild in his curly hair.

If I could have escaped the valley
    just like him
then I would have probably died just there, 

but Kilvey led my errant footsteps
to the warm rocks sitting where
the toiling river carried trees out to sea,
and showed me the way right out of there.

Go on son, you can be a liver
of a life away from the furnaces,
from the railway coke’s grey despair.
See the freedom this view burnishes;
go there now upon this very air.

Just look to the lark sky, to the summit;
dare to dream to be just there;
and never look back to the pulpit
of the god of Kilvey pointing where,
your future stalwart rises in the east,
lays down calmly in the west, 
golden upon eternity 
upon your very own
la vie, 
         la mort,
                       la mer.

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