From Newport Poet Competition Wales is a Woman
I am a Newport girl; South Wales is in my soul. It is in my heart and blood and bred into my very bones. I feel comfortable when it rains on the terraced, slate roofs and the whole world turns grey. I am at home in the steamy warmth of buses, penned in with my kind.
I went to a wedding in East Anglia once, I was almost paranoid after two days. You could see so far in every direction, that I could hardly lift my eyes for the shame. Yet everywhere I looked, it seemed something was missing. It took me awhile to realize that there were – no hills.
Wales is a bosomy place, essentially female. It is a landscape of soft valleys, deep clefts and curvaceous hills. I am used to the hills. I feel safe, enveloped in their warm embrace. Nowhere in Wales is without them.
Yes, Wales is a womanly place. Like a woman in all her ages, all her stages and each of her various moods. She is something pretty, combing down her conifer curls onto her sloping shoulders; beautiful in the gestures and languages of her many peoples. And occasionally ugly.
Like all women who have reached a ‘certain age’, she bears scars. In places where we have mistreated her, she has sometimes become psychotic, like a wild animal who has turned upon, devoured her own young.
She thrives in her moist climate. Occasional tears spring from some of her hillsides. They flow into rivers which have built up over the years and run deep channels down her face to the sea. She is surrounded by sea. Fathoms deep, it hides her dead and bathes her wounds in salt water.
When I need to hear silence or my own inner voice, I visit her heart of mind. I climb mountains, Mynydd Islywn, Twm Barlwm or The Skirrid. For there, the clean air, I can almost touch her pulse.
I see her housewifery spread out before me. A patchwork quilt of different greens, striped with houses, spotted with sheep. A Hollywood vision that needs only a lion and a tin man to be complete. For, from a distance, the terraces stand like a grinning witch with gaps in her teeth.
I have left several times, always to return. Do the Welsh ever really leave home? It seems as unlikely as losing your mother, forgetting your childhood or abandoning your children. Impossible for me. For I am a woman, and Wales is a woman to me.