On your tod. It was one of her sayings. She used them a lot. A kind of vernacular, learnt parrot-fashion, who from I don’t know as I don’t remember my father using them. Tod. A nice word. Like Bod. Bod was an illustrated cartoon character I remember from the TV of my youth. There was a farmer too, was he Barleymow? He’d been given a funny walk where his right leg raised up slightly as he walked. All uneven-like. TOD was the first three letters of a registration plate I saw on a old Morris Minor as I walked this morning. I can’t remember where now. Was it behind South Road? I went a different way, to get away from the wind. What a clattering down by the harbour. The boat rigging was jangling, the vessels jostling and the tarpaulin fluttering. It is quite a cacophony. And eerie in the dark. The howling becomes a song, a siren’s song. How must it be to out at sea in it? Do the boats go out in the wind? he asked when I went in to rouse him. I don’t know, I said, I haven’t seen any for weeks. And it’s true, not a sign. Has the lobster season ended? The pots are all stacked up. The smell of them catches my nose with its stink. Primal. An inner, almost sexual smell of hot salt, sand, and brine.

I keep going over it. Have I said enough? Have I done the poems justice? I thought about the notion of being good enough as I walked. It is an unsatisfying, discomforting way to live. Shouldn’t it be about doing the best you can and then stopping? This is what I had to say now, the best I could. There is more, there is always more. Always room for improvement, as they say. Of course. Why this constant seeking of best-ness, of being the best. It’s all about insecurity. Needing reassurance. How about just being this, this messy, awkward, sometimes brilliant, often clumsy being? Can you live with that? No doubt she will come back with it and I can make changes. But mostly, as in all that I do, I need to learn to leave it. To not fiddle. To let it be.

Coming down that dark street after the bus station and then towards the little hill that takes me down to Llanbadarn Road I saw two figures wrapped in a blanket. They were standing utterly still. The light from a streetlight illuminated them from the front. I couldn’t see their faces or determine their sex. They were a tableau, almost biblical, prophetic. Then I heard a ping. They moved. They moved as one beginning to ascend the hill, one of them looking at a phone. The other being took it and dialled. Hello, a feminine voice said, We’re not going to stay. There was a pause. Then she started to speak again. Only if you come for us. The stress was on the us, as if there were others to be considered. I strode passed them. Still unable to make out if they were two girls or a boy and a girl. They walked behind me. A single unit wrapped as if in swaddling.

A simple day today. I shall sew, ground myself, listen to the radio and wait for clarity.

The tickets are printed ready. The thought of it hollows me out.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.