Hopkins in Wales

Lachlan Mackinnon

A sheep nibbling earth’s firstlings is my spirit
that prays for the day Christ may stoop me
as a cooper denies his timber’s nature –
for two years in this windy eye of God
I have wrestled and prayed against myself
and you ask if I have the time for poems ...
Your letter brought me tears, and I was grateful.
Oppression, expression, these are words
but lack the radish-bite of right words
for two years in the flinty field
of etymology. Aneurin, for example,
is honour, maybe, passed down from the Romans

and fading like the faces on their coins –
or is ‘little-all-gold’, an honorific
for a tanned baby. So Aneurin ap Caw
was the little-all-gold-one of the flowing muse;
words are riddles I dare not answer,
to crack them cracks my heart. Men come to us
and tell God what they cannot tell their wives
and sometimes things press forward at me
begging to speak, symbols, hallucinations –
if I fix my mind with a bare tree,
a frozen spray of being, why always
does it remind me of the bare fork’dness
I must become and cannot? Pray for me and mine,

my brothers in this desolation;
I will not write again, for I am no one,
and must be nothing but the wind’s creak
that flays this earth’s responding stubbornness.