Afagddu’s Sorrows


Oh bone bird mother
do you not see my skeleton on the beach?

Do you not know which cormorant I was?

Do you not know how many stones I ate?
Do you not know of the sorrow of plastic I choked on?
Do you not know how I swallowed enough poison
to save the world but it was still not enough?

Whatever I did I could never gain perfection
with my oily wings, my puddling feet,
my shuffling look of misery.


When I fought I flew into
a blind unchannelled rage like a primeval bird
and no-one could bring me back, could call me back again…

thus I was better as an attendant demon believed malevolent.

I could have been a bard if I had not sung the wrong songs –
the antithesis of the music of the tongue, disharmony, un-cynghanedd.

If my words had not creaked like a broken wing beating and beating
up above as I went about picking up loose pieces of words
that had been discarded like the limbs of dolls
and sad squashed teddies.


In my childhood I had no hug, no cot, no mobile, no talking abacus,
and my mum did not leave the television on.

I didn’t really get to know the village where I was born
down beneath Lake Bala from which only
a harper and robin escaped.

I was more interested in the secret tunnel
between the worlds into which I could drag my ‘belongings’
and keep them safe – the rubbery Wellingtons,
the scribbly marker pens and notes.

Bala has always led to Tryweryn –

to the sunken villages and the empty beds
into which I climbed longing for mum and dad,

to the empty post office, school, chapel, chapel house,
to the cemetery and the new memorial chapel.


Black, ragged, bloated on November nights
I cannot remember my birthday but only the birthday
of my sister and how this was celebrated with whistles and balloons.

I instead was tarred and feathered and pecked to death

until I was rags and banners of intestine
and of course the cold dry bones,

until the door was opened
and I was bidden go.

Oh bird bone mother
if only you could see me now –

I am flying high beyond perfection.