Agile long-necked egrets flit through salt-marsh,
flashing white in spring sun, as if pecking cattle
in Africa, not this grand sweep of Cardigan Bay.

Grey-shrouded with patience, a heron waits to stab,
invisible to untrained eyes. As we near, it dry-flaps airborn
over sheep with dayglo smit marks on their shaggy pelts.

“Llywelyn the Great built the castle later burned down
by Owain Glyndŵr, because the English had turned
it into captives’ hill…” History and the Welsh tongue flow

tides and streams from a teacher tending his babbling line
of bilingual kids. Stripes of sand and shingle lead to dunes
where lizards hide and RS Thomas’ fierce quietness insists

on timelessness, on ‘growing rich with looking’. We look
at the soft purples of harebells, the sharp of gorse,
flitting stonechats, wind’s traces, waves folding in over land.

To avoid a spring, we pick around hollow anemone shells,
crunch bladder wrack and salt sand. Out-of-season cars
drive onto the strand to set up their encampment,

letting loose kids and adult dreams of childhood:
granular time, kites, spades. Hugging purple crags
as tightly as contour lines, fighter-pilots gloriously

practise death—a quick flash before their sonic-boom
thunders away. We trod-paced stay in our party, grounded,
and trudge the work-a-day out of ourselves and over

the Llŷn peninsula, past the runners’ gritty silence.
Carrying a “hi” or smile from walker to walker, we nod
to show kin and a shared delight in this slow immersion.

First published in the Fall edition of The Banyan Review, September 2023

poetry Wales nature hiking walking seaside