Sŵn y Morloi, Hannah Stone

Maytree Press, 2019   £6.00

Wild corners

Stone’s poems mark the names of bays on the Pencaer peninsula in Pembrokeshire. She focuses on specific events, closely observed wildlife and weather effects, with the gift for bringing the landscape into the reader’s living room.

The sequence of the three Abergwaun poems invokes the powerful history of Fishguard, the last invaders being the French ‘bedraggled in breeches and tricorns, dragging their hangovers’ to the sharp climb (in 'III') ‘where people have left love, there is more than sea to inhale.’

‘Carreg Onnen’ adopts an interesting tack. The narrator engages in yogic breathing exercises while distracted by, first, the horses in the stable, then the wild ponies on the headland. Colour and movement are beautifully realised in the canter of hooves and the wind riding out and more besides:

Follow the sway of their manes with quiet eyes,
self-soothe by listing the colours you see;

Brindle, chestnut, palomino.

‘Aber Bach hosts a holiday’ is overflowing with life, both human and wild, offering an evocative opening image — ‘tidal as a planet with too many moons’. People inhabit the beach, pattern the sand, and noise percolates the night air. As the tide comes in ‘Swallows / gristly webs of fishing nets / spits up twine-tangles, tin cans.’

‘Pwll Ofla’ offers a contemplation of the provenance of a circle of small stones. The narrator suggests their purpose:

Too small to steer sailors, they chart other journeys
(the sturdy-booted hiker, striding up from the village,
rests a hand on one, as if it were a trig point),

or they tell stories of smaller people,
with naked feet, who levered them upright
under stars whose light only now makes its way to earth.

This pamphlet is a walking trip in images on a well-beloved coastline. Around every wild corner the reader meets the elements: the birdlife making its presence known, the people, holiday makers, churchgoers, children, a weaver and historical figures, even a cat. All life is here.

Maggie Mackay