misty forest
Photo by Tolga Ahmetler on Unsplash

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The Road to Annwn by Francine van den Berg

04:27 AM, 22nd September.

The silence in between

raging cars and trucks that thunder

through the greater gaps of night.

Yes, her silence still wins—

I can touch it with my mind.

I check the moon. Third quarter, and

not nearly enough light left to

guide nocturnal thoughts.

A fading hand upholds me, still, by this

road that winds down occidental gloom—

will meet hushed woodlands, below

the stern, cool gaze of stars that grace

the skies tonight. But their names—

their names are unforgiving as oak’s old age…

Come the moorlands, the air transforms—

is stroked by the tang of the Little Folk—

the breath of fungi and damp plants lingers.

Now come, the wild dance in the fairy ring—

a flower garland hung above the cleft of

the rock that is blind to time—

forgetful and oblivious, but for

the seeker’s trust; the knock to Annwn

that tolls the bell between the worlds

…so rare, I know, for humans

to be allowed, yet try now I must—

before time awakens, before this world

pales, pales back to dawn.

-London, September 2012-


Francine van den Berg writes: My short stories have been shortlisted for the 2020 H.G. Wells Short Story Competition and the 2020 Hammond House Short Story Competition and appeared in anthologies henceforth. My poetry has been published in Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Morphrog Magazine and various anthologies. I am finishing my MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University, and looking towards publishing my first short story collection. I’m also writing my first novel (fiction) on Chopin, which I expect to finish next year.

Author's note

"The Road to Anwwn" is a poem that explores the shadowlands of dawn and dusk of which it is said the veils are thin between the worlds. It is the time when crepuscular animals, such as rabbits, are most active. It is the time when the human brain is dwelling between sleep and wakefulness; when creative thoughts spark. It is also the time of Faerie; a world that has retreated into the veils of mythology. It is said that seekers can enter Anwwn through a cleft in a rock by knocking on it with the correct number of flowers bundled into a bouquet (sadly, nobody knows how many flowers are needed exactly!). Carmina Magazine, with its plethora of mythical themes, puts us back into contact with the magical thinking that has, like Faerie, taken a backseat in present-day society but which many of us still feel drawn to. Consequently, I am delighted that "The Road to Annwn" is published in this excellent magazine.