Anniversary Poem

Words

In the twilit dome of the egg, the embryo's listening,
learning the refrain its parent sings.

A baby imagines a word's shape
before trying to speak, watches it on the lip

of whoever leans over the cot, hears it maze down the silk
of the ear, feels it settle in the tree of the brain,

tastes it in salts of skin, drinks it in milk,
spittle and tears, cries it in darkness and dream,

before tongue taps d, t, and lips unfold
from la to vowel, and turn the word to world.

Gwyneth Myfanwy, dying at ninety three,
calls 'Mam! Oh! Mam!' from the landscape of her dream,

her sunlit story of ten decades past
retelling itself, her first word, her last.

Gillian Clarke 2014

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