Poem Hunter
Quarry Supper
(1961 / London)

Quarry Supper

Poem By Ifor ap Glyn

The archaeology of eating's a strange thing;
our lunching in London
was fishfinger modern
like the plates on the placemats
but by just clearing the topsoil,
exposing the rock, and firing a fissure
through the layers of history,
we found we were still working
the same old "bargen"...
at mealtimes at least

Mam would summon us
for our suburban fare at five,
for that was expected of the wife
of a man for whom the rock was his life,

and some habits are as resilient
as those purple "dychis" and "ladis"
that were ferried formerly from Dinorwig

(although our family
had long since been driven
from their famine kitchen "bargen"
a and decamped to London
where stones of another ilk
could be split like silk...)

* * * * *
The archaeology of eating's a strange thing;
It's five once more, in Caernarfon this time,
and the spoons keenly sing
as they scrape the bowls...
"Hey!" I say, "you're not in the quarry now!"

-my mother's words in the London of my youth,
my grandmother's words in Llanrwst before that,
and my great grandmother's words
in the Fachwen of yore
relic-like words that have outlasted
my forefathers who once blasted
hewn rock from rough rock
and in the shed,
dressed slate into bread...

* * * * *
The archaeology of eating's
a strange thing...
tonight in London
though knowing nothing of dirt clearing
and tramway - making,
I still cleave my ideas,
and dress them on my imagination's edge,
because part of me
is still purple slate at heart
even tonight with my middle class haircut
and my Beaujolais teeth;

as I scratch new customs on an old slate
I know full well
I'm just a spit-and-hanky-wipe
away from a much harder kind of life;

seventy years
and two hundred miles down the line,
the sound of a closed quarry's hooter
still calls us to table to dine

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