Poetry at Sangam



A WALK IN WALES by Janice Pariat

it was a church – in this, the drama
of Welsh countryside, amidst purple folds
arising, a supine row of ageless gods,
cradled in deserted autumn fields
most harvested of all their congregation.

small, stony structure bearing on its back
the thankless weight of the dead.

back home, we had no graveyards and no
churches – instead those open hills, and dark
clusters of praying pine – our dead were turned
to ashes, winnowed corn from empty chaff,
light as dust, we travelled on the wind.

here, they keep them close, as though distance
will render them forgotten.

back home, our churches fill, while theirs
empty; our hearths bereft of wood-song
and ancient music. our stories turned
to ashes in old mouths, behind shrivelled
lips pursed in silence. it was this –

the bells summon the living, so they might
kneel, and keep the darkness at bay.

small, stony structure that built the oaken
crosses we still carry on our backs, bearing
the weight of the thankless dead. here, I
sense autumn is coming, and leaves fall
at my feet in wilful, fleeting apology.