There was a girl riding a white pony
Which seemed an elemental part
Of the snow. A crow cut a clean line
Across the hill, which we grasped as a rope
to pull us up the pale diagonal.
The point was to be first at the top
Of the mountain. Our laughter bounced far
Below us like five fists full of pebbles. About us
Lay the snow, deep in the hollows,
Very clean and dry, untouched.
I arrived breathless, my head breaking
The surface of the glittering light, thinking
No place could claim more beauty, white
Slag tips like cones of sugar spun
By the pit wheels under Machen mountain.
I sat on a rock in the sun, watching
My snowboys play. Pit villages shine
Like anthracite. Completed, the pale rider
Rode away. I turned to him and saw
His joy fall like the laughter down a dark
Crack. The black crow shadowed him.
by Gillian Clarke
from The Sundial (Gwasg Gomer, 1978)
Machen mountain mentioned in this poem is Mynydd Machen which is a 362-metre-high (1,188 ft) hill lying between the town of Risca and the village of Machen in Caerphilly County Borough in south Wales. Its summit is crowned by a trig point and a mast. The poem was written when Wales still had a coal mining industry and there were slag heaps, refuse from the mines and quarries, outside communities across the country.