CREATIVE Sarah Tanburn

NWR Issue 121

Hawks of Dust and Wine

My parents lived in an old farmhouse in Brycheiniog. From our sitting room you could see the hills rolling away. The sun lit a different field, the next curve of green, as each hour slipped by. The white barn of a farm five miles away would gleam an hour or so after midday. In the summer it would barely show but in winter it would flash, a temporary lighthouse telling us to hurry with our chores before we were wrecked by the rushing dark.

Just above us was the ridge that stretches with few interruptions from west of Aberhonddu to the river crossing at Llanymddyfri. Even a child needed only minutes to climb up through the woods to the top. Two tarns lay beside each other up there, one feeding the streams running south to the Usk, the other the springs leading to Nant Brân just north east. A mound squatted there too, a small hill overtopping everything for miles. Twyn Disgwylfa, our favourite spot for a picnic, the place for looking outwards, a place for looking at what might be.

We were friendly with hawkmasters across Cymru but no feathered creatures were captive on our land and we never carried guns. No eagles took our lambs and the trout in our pond were abundant and plump. My mother knew everything that flew, but we didn’t talk about that outside the family. As far as the rest of the world knew, she had come from somewhere in Y Mers, that boundary land to our east. She was reputed to enjoy her privacy, and our neighbours never called by without an invitation.

Da was the opposite, a horse-trainer, jovial with everyone and renowned far beyond Cymru for his skill. ‘A reliable bet’ they called him at the livestock auctions and the winner’s enclosure and by the side of the show ring. ‘The best,’ they said along the stable lines and in the jockey quarters. ‘Part centaur,’ claimed his apprentices.

‘Al’amyr Alhisan,’ said the owners. The horse prince...

Sarah Tanburn won second place in this summer’s New Welsh Writing Awards 2019 Rheidol Prize for Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting.

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