Tarmacwyr; Tarmac Men

Tarmacwyr

Doctoriaid ydyn nhw; mae’r lôn yn wael,
Yn dolciau ac yn dyllau ac yn dal ei dŵr
A daethant yn eu sgidiau duon i olwg y claf.

Yn welw gan ganlyniau’r sgan, mae’n nhw’n troi
Llygaid llawn at y pyllau glaw,
Twt‑twtian tafodau, llenwi’r ferfa’n fraf

A thrwy’r prynhawn, cysuro’r lôn ac olew
Eu hen gelfyddyd, rhoi’r haul ar ei hwyneb
A chosi’i chefn gyda chribin mân

Cyn tywallt yr uwd tywyll i’r tyllau
Yn gymysg â rhegfeydd Mayo, a’i rowlio
Â’u calonnau trymion, yn batshys glân,

Yn lôn lân, fel yr un y cerddodd eu teidiau
Pan oedd ei cherrig, gan newyn, yn fara
A blas ar ei glaswellt.

Cleifion ydyn nhw
Yn llawio papurau’r cwîn a llwytho’r lorri
Gan adael y cleisiau duon i adrodd y stori.

Tarmac Men

They are the doctors and the road is bad,
Dented and holed it can’t even pass water;
They come in their black boots to examine the sick man.

Paled by the results of the scan they turn
Brimming eyes to the puddled rain,
Tut‑tutting their tongues as they fill the barrow full,

All of the long afternoon they balm the road in the oil
Of their older craft, they sun its face,
And they comb its back with a little rake.

Then they pour black gruel into the holes,
And mix it with curses from the County of Mayo.
They roll it with their heavy hearts to make new patches,

To make a new road like the one their fathers walked on
When its stones, through famine, were bread
And its grass was good to eat.

They are patients too
As they shuffle the papers of the queen* and load their lorry
And leave the black scars there to tell the story.

*bank notes!

©:Myrddin ap Dafydd, 1999.

Myrddin ap Dafydd was born in Llanrwst in 1956. At the Welsh National Eisteddfod in Rhymney in 1990 he won the bardic chair for his poem, Gwythiennau (‘Veins’). He is the owner and manager of the publishing house, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch in Llanrwst, Gwynedd.

In giving us permission to translate and publish this poem he said:
"My poem refers to the traveller families who come to Wales from Ireland every summer to carry out such tasks as repairing private roads, farm lanes and driveways. They are descended from those who took to the roads of Ireland at the time of the Great Famine."

Translation: Wales Famine Forum.

Published in The Green Dragon No 9, Winter 1999

Links St. Patrick’s Day, 2004 / Gorgysylltiadau Gŵyl Padrig Sant, 2004

Adref / Home