Epitaph – Burra (S.A.)

(for Wyndham Davies)

At first Welsh words seemed strange here
where this parched heartland of my country sprawls
in tussock-tossing wind and clear,
Tom Roberts colours.  Underneath a line
of swaying, grey, complaining pines
shed needles stain the cracks that years
have etched across the headstone by the wall.

Strange – until I saw the names
that read like Rhondda-Valley roll calls.  Rows
of lichened names edge growth-choked lanes
faint now, but when those people lived that stone
and epitaph meant something.  Home
had echoes there.  Perhaps they came
to place it here – a century ago.

Perhaps they talked awhile.  The air
was surely Celtic then between these trees
and Cornish walls.  They knew that where
we die is unimportant if we lie
beneath our language and beside
our friends.  They left him resting there –
as close to home as most of us will be.

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