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LATER THAN LAUGHARNE
by Aeronwy Thomas
Herons, mussel pools, gulls and pipers,
Encircle our “house on stilts high among
beaks and palavers of birds.” Cormorants
scud and gulls glide in my memory.
The stones, washed by the tide, which I
would turn looking for blue and white,
or floral pieces of china for our crockery
houses . . . And the fish my mother would
catch and I throw back into the swirling
waters of the estuary all around us . . .
I remember them well.
. . . And high tide covering our back garden
through a hole in the stone wall which
embraced our home. The tide carrying our
makeshift boats on its back, pieces of lumber,
an old zinc bath, and I can still recall
the envy I felt when they bought my brother
a boat call The Cuckoo . . .
The names come tumbling back—
. . . And I remember the hole in the wall was
called grandly ba ll, The Harbour.
. . . And who could forget sliding down the
mud banks at low tide into the rivulets
left by the receding water, or running along
the cliffwalk and stirring up a din outside
the shed that was my father’s writing den.
The memories race back—
. . . And the thrill of peeping through
the keyhole (I was always the most naughty)
to see my father writing his poems about
gulls, hills and cormorants on estuaries
which he saw through his wide-vista window,
as he sat, bent, writing in crabbed letters,
pressing against the hard surface of the
kitchen table that was his desk . . .
We were poor those days—
Though I can’t remember being poor
In Laugharne, in those balmy,
Green and golden . . .
Herons, gulls and piper still encircle
Our house on stilts,
And the cormorants still scud and glide
In my memory . . .
From Burning Bridges (Cross-Cultural Communications, 2008).
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