CREATIVE Mary-Ann Constantine

NWR Issue 99

Lake Story

Rhag bod annwyd ar fy mab If my son should find it cold
Rhoddwch arno gôb ei dad. Wrap him in his father’s coat
Rhag bod annwyd ar liw’r can If the fair one feels the cold
Rhoddwch arni bais ei mam. Wrap her in my petticoat.

When the levels rise, the plants around the edge find themselves under water. Tiny yellow four-petalled tormentil. Buttercups and rusty sphagnum moss and even the reeds, even the grass. And they do look strange held there, more significant somehow, breathing in the wrong element for a while at least, until the levels drop again and release them. The space she inhabits works something like that. There are days driving home when I can tell our village has gone under. Days when it spills down from the lake up on the hill, and floods over the cattlegrids so that you pass into it about half-way up the back lane. The familiar skyline expresses it too, but really it is the quality of the air that changes. There are days when it happens, days when it doesn’t. It may be something to do with the light.

The children, hers and mine, are down by the edge of the lake, and the older ones are lunging optimistically with nets and the smaller ones are playing a game that involves jumping off stones and frightening the shoals of tiny bright fish out of their senses, and although it is early afternoon on the hottest day of the year so far my feet are grey and cold from standing in the lake and I have withdrawn to a dryish hummock of grass to try and remove my boots which are suddenly unbearable. I know I am keeping a perfectly adequate half an eye on them, but half is clearly not enough as she appears from somewhere and hovers around making concerned noises; it’s mine she’s worried about, as ever. I tell her not to be. I tell her to come and sit down and stop being so restless; the kids, I say, are all right...

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