after a sign seen on the A487
The mist clung close to the trunk road.
Fuel ran low on the gauge.
A county cleared, but the drive was still at
The embryonic stage;
We were off to Llanfairfechan.
Cantre’r Gwaelod perhaps –
Victoria cooks a mean bean chilli,
But she’s useless with maps.
It was Good Friday, but not great;
The morning following
The ITV Leaders’ Debate, I was
Worse for wear, wallowing
In politic paralysis.
Surly sheep and cattle
Lurked in foggy fields lined by lozenges
Of orange, at battle
Ever more fierce the further north
We drove with daffodils
On fields of green: the men who would be king
Of these high veiled hills;
The choice of Mike Williams or
Mike Parker – or was it
Mark Williams and Mark Parker? I blinked:
A sign that didn’t fit
Read “EGGS FOR SALE” in painted script.
The children were sleeping;
So was their mother. I dropped to fourth gear,
Third, Second; a sweeping
Motion, and I pulled the Dacia
Down a dirt road to some
Forlorn farm, emerging from the vapour
All rusty, dark and dumb.
An ancient Welsh woman answered
The door before I’d knocked;
Bade me follow, in a language I found
In childhood rooms unlocked,
Down to a cellar, thick with steam.
“Here they are” she tindered,
Gesturing toward a pulsating clutch
Of propane cylinders.
“How many do you want?” she asked.
I answered: “I’m not sure.”
A crack forked across the membrane of one;
And from that crack, a claw.
I wanted to write a poem about the 2015 general election, but didn’t have an angle. The breathtaking A487 trunk road runs from Fishguard to Bangor; and more metaphorically from my present life in Pembrokeshire to my childhood in what was then Gwynedd. (Before moving to England as a teenager, I grew up on Anglesey and went to secondary school in Bangor.) Now every time I drive the length of West Wales I feel a surge of nationalism at odds with my indistinct Anglo-Welsh identity and usually pragmatic internationalist outlook. Ceredigion, a Liberal/Plaid marginal constituency in recent years, provided a much better allegorical battleground for examining this than my own constituency of Preseli Pembrokeshire, an uncharacteristically safe Tory seat in Wales at the time of writing. I’d also just begun watching season five of Game of Thrones.