Poetry:Cambrian Photography

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I could afford the tripod no more than the guitar
I had bought from Porthmadog some months before
(A handsome acoustic, of cedar wood
that sits now in a case in my parent's house
a Proclaimer's song away from here,
as Google would have the crow fly,
unbesmirched it is by that plastic swatch
all those pretenders had insisted upon,
and which I had refused with one of those
home-rolled inflexible philosophies
I have always rustled up when least convenient)
but just the same I could not talk myself out of it.

I was out of it
oh but in so many ways
but there was something in me
a vigour
a drive
and who was I to know if this might not be
its purest expression yet

"If all else fails
Try Wales"
wrote Christopher Logue
in a book I found in one of those second hand shops
I have found in every town with so little promise
I did
(I had tried and failed for a tent in The Ardeche)
And did it fail like everything else?
More or less. More and less.
Which is much as it ought to be.
In towns like this you find the smallest of such small mercies
And so on Abergele Road, Colwyn Bay,
a moribund town refusing yet to die,
there was a shop with a foot in another age
I had inherited a hand-me-down camera
as I had previously inherited hand-me-down cars
and this tripod would see me walk around at night
- if only once or twice -
from the buddhist meditation centre in Llandudno
where I was to find myself
or at least hear myself come looking
to take long exposure shots
of the prominade

I would walk out of the kitchen at The Quay
on the Sunday after a long Jubilee Weekend
where, startled and lost, I would make approximations
of starters as the shouts went on around me
as the lads fought with a new charcoal oven
that coughed up soot all over the less pretentious porcelain plates

And so I let him down, the lad I worked with
putting out slices of turkey, stuffing
green beans in courgette rings
brussel sprouts
a DJ in his spare time
I wasn't to be reached and yet he tried,
talked about his father who worked in that camera shop,
and talked of the morning and the evening light
And yet here he is
- perhaps I'll reach him yet
with my customary satellite delay -
and there was two, three slide films
I put through that Olympus Trip in the Cairngorms
Somebody took care over those
One of the small mercies
On Abergele Road

Perhaps you miss the rain
Certainly you could miss the runs on uneven stone paths
the waterfalls that inspire poor stories
that never quite get written
The carving of memorials to unknown women
who died young,
of vanity some would say,
by lakes and wild fells

Many a time I have missed the feel of feet
soaking down into sodden peat
hillside trails turning into streams
as you run down them with the rain coming down

"Are you a photographer?"
the neighbour would ask, in Czech, years later
the tripod stood in a damp bare brick basement
where I would record and handful of cries into the void.
I would carry it around on New Year's Eve
where I might take a photograph of the statue of Simon Bolivar
and if I brazened out the embarrassment
to walk around a little stoned, a little less tipsy
coming across little enough to commit to record
and if it has not yet been much more than an accessory
to a handful of the fondest of hopes
still I would tell you
buy your guitar
buy your tripod
find room for all of these magical items
in the overweight baggage you can scarce afford
One day yet I'll shake out those legs, click a camera into place
and squeeze the trigger on a photograph
and put it to these inadequate words
and every lonely step I ever trod
looking for whatever it was
I had been so desperate to find
will have led somewhere after all