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October 2014, vol 10 no 3

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Ken Jones

The Ice Axe

No future, past nor present
only a china cup
the tea growing cold

From a sprawling home in a deep valley we are moving to a little house on a sea cliff. The cancer that has been sleeping in my body for years grows suddenly voracious as it moves with us into my bones. The perfect sense of timing of the crab.

Time finally to discard the evidence of my successive selves — those dear dead enthusiasms and beliefs.

Casting off this long life
the book shelves
not quite stripped bare

And riffling through my fading recollections, half the people's names that should be there are missing.

Faded Brownie snap
a fleeting smile
gone forever

The rubber band breaks on a dusty bundle of cassettes. Into the skip with them, vain certainties of a younger voice!

Flecked with swallow shit
Glyndwr's battle flag
hangs limply from the rafters

My seventy-nine year old neighbour comes to collect from the barn all our well-worn tools, no longer useful.

Tangled in rusty chicken wire
my ice axe
the blade still keen


"Brownie snaps" - The Brownie Box Camera, a favourite early in the last century.

"Glyndwr's battle flag" - Prince Owain Glyndwr, the romantic hero of Welsh history.