Gillian Clarke, the National Poet of Wales from 2008 – 2016, was commissioned to write a poem about abuse and the NISB is delighted to publish it on our website. We are also grateful to Ceri Wyn Jones whose Welsh translation of Gillian’s poem is also published. “The Silence” is relevant to all of us.
Mair? Myfanwy? Manon?
– a farmer’s daughter from the hills, shy
as a mountain pony, dark-haired, eyes
lake-water-grey, skin clear as the dawn.
Years ago, on a schools writing course by a lake,
she brought to me, a stranger, her story.
I still see her neat longhand in a school book,
the fear in it. Was it fiction, or memory?
In her words the landing light was gold
dowsed by a shadow, as a mother, father, might
creep in to a sleepy child to say goodnight,
but her dream was blood and pain and wolf-winds howled.
Mair, Manon, Myfanwy, I still think of her,
those pages where night-shadows drowned the light,
the wordlessness between us, my guilty heart
as I read her story, said only: ‘How well you write!’
I burn for that silence which I dared not break,
could find no words to set her free to speak.
© National Independent Safeguarding Board Wales