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Retracing Wales:
Penmon to Llanddona

From Planet 213

A new series of pieces responding to the Wales Coast Path:
Tristan Hughes - The Mona Complex

I remember the surface of the water. It was greasily still and flat, tired out, the way it can sometimes get towards the end of winter. Up above us along the cliff-top was a fringe of bracken, its orange almost washed out, and here and there a solitary blackthorn bent into some strange and tormented shape, like Laocoon twisting among the serpents. A skimmed-milk haze hung on the horizon, through which my friend, Tom, said he could see Ireland. But I couldn’t see anything, only the haze, which had hung there all day with no breeze to chase it off.

Tom was hacking at the neck of a dead seal with his penknife. He was a collector of skulls (there always seemed to be dead things o the shore, denizens of every element: cows and sheep, seagulls and fish) and was as pleased as could be with this discovery. Only his knife troubled him: it wasn’t sharp enough and kept catching on the stinking, olive-dark skin. I, who was less brave and more squeamish, paced uneasily along the thin strand of white stones. Across from us, on a grey-black slab of rock, a pair of cormorants preened their wings and stared. We weren’t meant to be here.

I remember the surface of the water and how suddenly and unexpectedly it broke, as though a school of whitebait or sandeels were being chased up through it. We must have heard the shot simultaneously, but that isn’t how it seemed. It seemed as though we saw the pellets hit the water first and only then heard the shot. The noise, slowed by the stillness of the sea, bounced back and forth between the rocky edges of the cove. The cormorants had slipped soundlessly back into the water...



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