Dust motes reflected light
in the still air behind chapel windows.
The smell of mould the only paean in a vernacular of damp.
A last stand of hymn books regrouped at the end of pews
as the rain finally came in.
In the dream time
there were walls, ditches, sheepfolds,
homesteads, castles, stone circles.
With tireless devotion
time and weather smoothed
and reduced the traces,
grass healing the scars.
Below, the purleius of Raven and Curlew
of wolf and wildcat.
polished smooth under grass
their memories lying like lazy beasts
asleep in the sun.
Of course, they weren't the first here.
Megalith builders wandered along the dod man's sight lines,
hilltop notch and tump,
looking for minerals
bell pits sounding for magnetic iron.
The romans looked for lead
and found gold at Daulcothi.
All left their signatures
for the company of mine adventurers
to read and consider.
At the dawn of the industrial age
oak, elm, ash and birch
were sucked into hungry iron furnaces.
The wolf retreated into the mountains.
Methusalem Jones woke from a dream
saw vastness of slate
So the old man mined,
pulling what was inside, out.
Grey mountains of negative space
looming over the boom town.
The miners had given their souls
to the chapel
the best part of their lives to the owners
their money to the company store.
When the market for slate fell away,
with the speed and finality
of a rock dropped down a shaft
the owners looked away,
picked up other shiny things.
All the hoggia chwarel cast aside,
their monument: the crabbed handwriting
of history on the hillside.
Longhand, copper plate.
Blottings, scratchings, overwriting, crossings out.
A silence descended.
Up on the tips
a few old boys worked a slab here, a pillar there...
robbing the dry stone mills and barracks
building shelters, stumbling over the ruins-
Heath Robinson, their ropeways and machinery.
In the 21st century
The new quarryman emerged.
Tooled up with big Cat and bang,
a handful of men where once thousands toiled.
Where the old man walked nine miles to work
he rolls up in the HiLux, Costa coffee on the go.
Bothering the daylight chambers
before burying them
in a mountain of
the locals work the mine
with credit card readers
no jwmpars, or black powder
just smoke and mirrors.
Checking the tourists' tickets
no callouses on their hands, just time.
The old chambers are rigged with underground trampolines,
Zip Lines, son et lumiere;
things the old man could not have imagined
as he toiled down there in candlelight.
Topsides, the mountain bikers descend the singletrack,
speeding down, facebook ready.
In the north, a chromatograph of shanty towns spreads,
stained around Primark, Top Shop and Costa.
Handy for Snowdonia, capital of adventure
the trompe l'oeul wonderland.
Perched in the Cat's cosy cab.
the lone quarryman looks down
on the chaos of his morning's work
The planners quarried a hole in the national park for just this eventuality.
Brown envelopes were not in vain.
Cut to soft focus
climbing up the rock to drill a shot hole.
A cut of slab wagons comes groaning up from Tuxford
Uncle Dewi at the crimp.
Other men everywhere, building, working.
Smoke, steam, shouts, laughter
water wheels turning, saws screaming.
The mwg cur y pen hangs over the pit.
He blinks, shakes his head
Moves the joystick
the Cat's arm obeys
moves towards the No.9 floor drumhouse,
and the graffiti of a horse
Slate dust rises
shapes catching like ghosts on the breeze.
Another scribble on the palimpsest.
mwg cur y pen- the smoke from blasting, literally "headache smoke".
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