Crossing Wales

This entry is part 3 of 29 in the series Conversari


Facing backwards on the train
like a waxing moon, hidden wheel
of my belly a little wobbly,
I watch the hills pile up, blueing
as the gulf between us grows.
Who knows when or if I’ll pass
this way again? And then
I focus on the close-at-hand,
& realize all this time
I’ve been staring straight through
the reflection of a girl
who faces forward, pale
& attentive, hair the color
of autumn fields. We slow
down. The intercom crackles.
A station platform assembles itself
around us & stops, & the doors
slide open. What place is this
whose name requires two
clearings of the throat?


See the photographic response by Rachel Rawlins, “eye.”

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9 Replies to “Crossing Wales”

  1. Dave, I’ve been a stranger in your comments boxes for too long. Life at Ty Isaf got a little hairy in the countdown to the exhibition. I was calling by Via Negativa, but usually a breakneck speed and with my mind all over the place. Things have calmed now, for a while at least.

    Good to see a return to Wales in this poem. You may be far away in body, but you must have left a part of yourself behind because sometimes when I walk into our kitchen or dining room, I get a flash of many American voices raised in laughter around a table, and it’s as though you and Marly, Andrea and Anita haven’t left at all, but have taken residence around the place like a bunch of benevolent poltergeists! I hear you too whenever I make that morning walk up through the livery stable at Pantmawr, over the hill and back down to cross the River Ystwyth at Llanilar and along the cycle path to home. The four of you made more impact here than you might imagine. I don’t think that there will ever be an event here that’s as much fun as when the writers arrived from the States and took over Ty Isaf. You write:

    Who knows when or if I’ll pass
    this way again?

    I for one heartily hope that you will my friend. I hope you know that the warmest welcome will await you.

    1. Well, I hope so, too! We’ll just have to hold a mini writers’ conference at Ty Isaf sometime. It would be fun to have more time to hang out with Welsh poets, for example, and maybe rent a caravan and tour the countryside.

  2. Dave, I wanted to comment when I first read this poem, but hoped that if I left it for a while I’d manage to formulate more concretely why I liked it so much, rather than just again saying ‘wonderful’ or ‘love this one’. Returning a few days later, I’m not noticeably less brain-dead, so I’m not sure I can, but didn’t want to let this disappear off the screen without saying anything. I think what I like so much about this is that it evokes an entirely familiar train-journey feeling, but does it in all sorts of small, strange, surprising ways.

    1. Thank you, Jean. Train travel is much less common and more expensive here in the States, so I was paying close attention to details of the experience that probably would’ve been lost on me if it were something I did more often. I kind of surprised myself with the ending of the poem, which is a bit subtler than what I usually come up with.

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