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Bethan Roberts Aug 2018
Years on from closed curtains and clacking teeth,
Groaning in the dark; he digs the gardens growing
Fruits, flowers, vegetables. Vegetation
For all seasons, for all uses, the ornamental
Alongside the agricultural, fancy and functional,
Practical and pretty. The seeds may lie
In trodden dirt, but already, each day,
They are straining for the sun.
Big brother you are tender to the flowers
As the world never was to us or others,
Still time shows that all things change and all things
With love, with hard earth broken by toil, can grow
- Take off the graveclothes and let him go! -
He is coming home, and the spring is at his heels.
This poem has been previously published in The Kindling:
Bethan Roberts Aug 2018
It doesn't always feel like you
Are gone I keep expecting
To see you on my newsfeed picture perfect,
Or on the corner of a grey terrace, smoking,
Or emerging from the ginnel by our old school to say that
It was a joke, it was a mistake,
That you saw something you shouldn't,
And had to spend ten years
In the witness protection programme,
Anything, anything. Please,
Wake me at three a.m. emerging
From the blackness in muddied graveclothes,
And tell me how four score angels with flaming torches
And sophisticated geophysical imaging equipment
Came in the night to bring you back, tell me anything,
I am ready, I am waiting, to believe it.
For a friend. This poem has previously appeared in The Kindling:
Bethan Roberts Aug 2018
I remember seeing a wasp, dead
But clinging to the wall and I remember
The desire to press a finger to the sting
And know made the other children cry.
Not long ago I found a wasp again,
Likewise dead, and lying on the floor.
And though I could remember that it hurt,
Because I could not recollect the pain
Exactly, in its quality and depth,
I found that at this distance I was tempted
To touch it and to feel the sting again.
Bethan Roberts Aug 2018
A young man lunges
Out of the analogue darkness
Before his limbs fade back into static
Leaving only a microphone -
Then nothing.
This poem was written in response to grainy footage of Ian Curtis performing taken from Factory Records' archives and displayed in Manchester Art Gallery
Bethan Roberts Aug 2018
All the hope invested in the early promise
Of the gifted child, bundled into
Galleys of palimpsestic
Scribblings, doodles, journal entries
And frantic letters of recommendation
Only served to stoke the eventual burnout
Into an inferno.
Bethan Roberts Aug 2018
Fourteen days gone, too long,
Since you rowed the chopping sea
Away from the island,
And the heat beats down on half-shorn sheep,
Biting through turquoise shards
In a slate-grey sea.

Fruit ripens and rots on the bushes,
And the boys next door are casting longways looks
At our eldest daughters.
Old women out of the sun
Fan themselves with hands roped and ridged
Like gorse roots.

Washing and dressing the children,
Milking the full, pendulous udders of the cows,
Digging floury fingers deep into unbaked bread -
Stalks in the field would bend and break
So heavy with grain!

Come back in the bay,
Come back ‘cross the sound!
Come back and I will lick the salt from your lips,
Jealous of the ocean’s kisses.
Come in, cariad, warm and welcome –
Come home – my darling –
My desire!
Ynys Enlli or Bardsey Island is an island off the coast of North Wales. The island has no harbour and the journey across the stretch of ocean between it and the mainland has always been a treacherous one. In the past, the only way to make the crossing would have been a rowing boat that often required every able bodied man on the island as a crew. If the weather was not fair for the return crossing, the men could then be stranded on the mainland for weeks at a time with no way to contact the other islanders.

I wrote this poem during a stay on the island in 2016. It is still difficult to reach by boat, being so dependant on fair weather, and I have been stranded there myself before. In this poem I imagine the emotions of the women left behind, charged with running their homes and farms single-handed, and finding themselves frustrated in the absence of their partners.
Bethan Roberts Aug 2018
Bright from the wine-dark womb the world
Is light itself, and the fingers of the newest covenant
Flower like petals.
She comes forth like a promise
Between legs that bore her;
Her cord has not yet been cut into the kiss of Cain,
And the secrets of her origin cling tight
To her flesh. Her chest heaves
Its first breath out of the blurry brightness,
******* in spirit from the dead air.
She holds for a surprised second,
Then throws back her rose-crowned head
And cries.
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