(for Paulette Wilson, Anthony Bryan -and Amelia Gentleman)
Blessèd am I, avoiding the plague,
in my imagined bondage;
treading ten thousand steps
on the outskirts of my town.
And I walk the old paths
with new eyes,
till I reclaim a seasonal tongue
that modulates between the slow, slow speech
of the far-off peaks,
and the abrupt babble of nearby hedgerows.
Blessèd am I,
with only the drumkit of a dove’s wings
to disturb my peace. That’s my privilege…
but that can revert in an eye-blink.
Because I was neither born
nor raised here
(though this is where I live
with my alleged children);
I’ve no proof that I’m Welsh;
that this is where I’ve lived
for each of the last forty years.
no-one provokes me
with vile words like these…
So, I am blessed.
And I give thanks…
…that I will not be denied
though I’ve paid my stamp
(I could’ve sworn)
since before those who spurn my rights
I give thanks
that I won’t be dismissed from my job,
that I won’t be turned out of my house;
that I won’t be exiled to a city
that doesn’t remember me;
that I won’t be jailed
at the edge of an airfield,
by those who’d make my world a lie.
blessèd are we
when we cannot pass by on the other side;
when there’s a new turning
in the heart of each town,
and we walk the old paths with new eyes,
stepping out, all together,
through the mud of winter,
till we walk new summers into our speech,
till we rise up better,
till we can live in colour,
and not just see in black and white.