I’m delighted to have a poem in this 5-volume pamphlet series published by Parthian Books and edited by wells expert, Phil Cope.
This is part of the Ancient Connections project, the ambitious exploration and reinforcement of links between Wexford on the Irish coast and Pembrokeshire across the Irish Sea in Wales.
My poem appears in Y Gerddoriaeth Hynaf / Is Ceol Sine
It explores and celebrates how holy wells have inspired poets for hundreds of years and includes a selection of old and new poems, in Welsh, English and Irish, including by Lewys Glyn Cothi, Gwynfardd Brycheiniog, Ieuan ap Rhydderch, Angela Graham, Tony Curtis, Grace O’Reilly, Eirwyn George, Dafydd Williams, Julian Cason, Lorraine O’Dwyer, Brian Jackson, Phil Carradice and Phil Cope. The Volume is illustrated by Phil Cope’s compelling photographs.
My poem considers the link between the culture of wells in both places and some aspects of what wells ‘do’ for us.
A WELL IN PEMBROKESHIRE, A WELL IN WEXFORD
This one is the pupil of an eye.
It exists to gaze at heaven.
Even the winter snows
kiss it and leave; no ice
forms here, for the pulse at its core
keeps its sight clear.
My face, hovering, it knows
will pass; all shadows do.
Only the sky endures.
And this one is a summery mirror
avid for something to reflect
− branches, birds, our gawping –
and it giggles, when anything touches it,
shiggling out a little overflow.
All on the surface? The reverse.
The negative of every image
is banked and catalogued in its vault.
These wells hear the sea that roils between them.
Like siblings in the dark, they reach
for one another’s hand
far below the boisterous tides
and spell on each other’s fingers
all they have seen and understood.
We think it is we who do
the looking. When the time approaches
for the world to blister, God
will command that everything be screened;
that the wells, erupting, stream
the banners of their spoils. We’ll see
ourselves, forever at the brink.
Holy Wells of Wexford and Pembrokeshire is a series of five chapbooks commissioned by Ancient Connections, an EU funded arts, heritage and tourism project linking north Pembrokeshire with north Wexford led by Pembrokeshire County Council with partners Wexford County Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Visit Wexford. The series coincides with the launch of a new pilgrim route; Wexford-Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way between Ferns in County Wexford and St Davids in Pembrokeshire. The holy wells explored in this series through fiction, essays, photographs, poetry and prints are all on or close to the new pilgrim route.