A Message from the Reeds at Brockholes

Winter Solstice 2022

‘Gwyn ap Nudd, helper of hosts,
armies fall before the hooves of your horse
as swiftly as cut reeds to the ground.’
‘The Conversation of Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwyddno Garanhir’

Three years have passed
since the last time I celebrated
the winter solstice here – the reeds still stand
as do the standing stones and the tradition
of dancing down the sun.

Who or what has fallen since the beginning of the disease?

More than armies, 181,000 deaths to this day.

The reeds still stand but something
was cut down within me when I cleared other reed beds
in the name of good service, knowing they would grow again, strove
to become a good custodian of the Water Country but was not accepted.

I fell and got trampled beneath the huge round hooves of Your horse.

I’m not dead yet, I picked myself up, got back on my bicycle

but appeared a stranger at the Pagan gathering
in my hi-vis jacket with my cycle helmet

needing to leave before it got dark

and chasing the sun west to the place I call home.

Here I attend the work of putting the cut reeds together again
reciting not the names of long dead warriors
Gwenddolau, Gwallog, Llachau…

but making a new bed

for the lost and weary souls
who half-died and want to grow tall.

The reeds say that we will grow again no matter
how hard we are trampled by the hooves of horses to the ground.

Gwyn Portrait, April’s End

The huntsman has ridden all night, following the brilliance of the spirit roads- the shining tracks that criss-cross the island of Britain. Instead of returning home he remains here for dawn, listening to the idiosyncrasies of each bird’s song, watching dew form on blades of grass, on petals of hawthorn blossoms and may flowers.

He is and is not the mist, riding through damp meadows over hills, mountains and moors on a pale horse accompanied by a hound of the same complexion. He is and is not each sun-lit cloud he travels with, the touch and whisper of the wind.

He cannot stay here long, for this world we see as the land of the living is not his. He must return home to Annwn, the Otherworld, to prepare for a battle that cannot be won. To fight for a maiden he shouldn’t have loved, shouldn’t still love… in bluebells and forget-me-nots, emerging greens and white and yellow flowers he sees her colours.

For a moment he is possessed by memories of their passion, and the crimes it drove him to. A glimpse of his blacked face in a reed strewn pool shows no amount of war paint can mask his guilt, which he must live with for as long as there are people to sing his songs.

He searches for a sign. What is Judgement Day? When is it? Although he knows the language of the trees and plants, the tracks of every wild creature and the flight of birds, these questions are beyond his power to divine. When the worlds end, will Creiddylad and I be together again?

May Flower, Penwortham

Much Hoole Moss

Glacial retreat leaves a wet land weeping
Life breeds teeming in reeds in hollow pools.
Fallen rushes in the deep rot to peat
Sphagnum, master of decay rules all.

Rosemary curves pink, explosive sun dew winks,
Cranberry thrives on hidden stalks, delish gleam.
Cotton grass streaks, eye spotted large heath fleets
Over multi-coloured moss the curlew soars.

Anoxic, unbreathing, hold all beneath;
Primeval plant, box of oak, bone and spear.
Living museum of ten thousand years
Stores the past of the people of Much Hoole.

Dug for peat, drained and fertilised for wheat,
Dropping, drying, sinking precariously.
Much Hoole Moss sole preclusion of mercy
Sways tentative twixt field and fern and man.

If the drainage was stayed, water retained,
Sphagnum regained, the moss could be redeemed.
Natural history, just outside our doors,
An ancient site of wonderment and awe.

Surrendering the land for fun and games;
Thunder of guns and thud of running feet
With erosive shudders the moss land sinks
Lost are its mysteries and future dreams.

Much Hoole Moss Paintballing Site