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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, March 20, 2004
    Floodwaters
     
    One of the best things about a stormy day is it encourages you to stay indoors, dwell a bit. Which is one of the best things about moving, too. Another best thing about moving is it forces or encourages you to rediscover all sorts of lost treasures from your life. So, dwelling a bit today, I rediscovered a few lines I penned at the end of the holiday I took in November 2000 - in the week of those storms which left half our land flooded. It describes my wet-weather retreat at Ffald-y-Brenin, deep in the heart of the old country, Pembrokeshire.....

    I have seen roads become rivers: cars calmed, lorries lulled into tarmac-floored lakes.
    I have seen trees afloat
    And sheep adrift
    And ex-chapel showrooms awash at the edge of watery fields.

    I have seen dark clouds scud across Preseli's gentle peaks
    Washing their green slopes greener
    I have seen Cwm Gwaun soaked: subdued;
    Which once exploded into shape through the upward force of icefields
    Now drips.

    I have seen a three-legged dog wag its tail once at me
    Then hop rapidly into a doorway.
    I have seen the eye of God in the glance of a magpie.
    I have seen dead creatures staring out blankly through roadside puddles.

    In a churchyard
    I have seen an ancient cross that glows fire-red
    And a yew tree dripping blood.
    And I have seen St Brynach, who once subdued evil spirits
    And brought a dead cow to life in defiance of a king,
    Portrayed in cross-stitch, in a cope of many colours
    Armless, expressionless, beautifully designed.

    I have seen my way marred by mud
    And have stared out a squirrel, twitching at me halfway up a tree.
    I have seen my face in a mirror: it looked shocked.

    I have seen St Dogmaels on All Saints Day
    Grey and unsurprising save for an astonishing Abbey.
    I have seen the past catch up and overtake
    In places like this.

    With the world slowly sinking under floodwaters
    Lights blinking, lines open,
    Awaiting submersion,
    I have seen the old land
    Afloat
    In the tar-lined coracle of faith.