Llech Ronw

is in my chest.

A stone with a hole
where my heart once was.

I fought your battle for you
on the riverbank –

on the bank of the Cynfal
near Bryn Cygergyr

where I have never
walked and Welsh words

roll like stones in my mouth
washed downriver

from Ceunant Coch.
I feel like Blaenau Ffestiniog.

No, the mountains above
slate hearts torn out.

Where have we hidden it
this time in this never ending

shadowplay of shifting guises
not knowing whose hand

reaches through the hole
in the slate into another world

and drags something back
to make us whole?

This poem is based on the battle between Lleu Llaw Gyffes and Gronw Pebyr in the Fourth Branch of The Mabinogi. In it I believe the King of Annwn takes the guise of Gronw to defeat Lleu. In an additional identity exchange, in this poem, I found myself in the role of Annwn’s king becoming Gronw.

The battle took place on the bank of Afon Cynfal near Bryn Cygergyr ‘the Hill of the Blow’. Llech Ronw ‘the Slate of Gronw’ is a stone found in 1934 on the bank of the Cynfal. It was washed down from Ceunant Coch and now stands on Afon Bryn Saeth. I haven’t visited Llech Ronw. The pictured stone is the replica at Llyn Trawsfynydd and the accompanying photograph is of the mountains above Blaenau Ffestiniog.