By Matt Steel
20 July 2021

The Welsh word taithchwant (TĪTH‑khoo‑ahnt) means, roughly, an overpowering spiritual wanderlust or desire for self-imposed exile. Hiraeth (here‑ĪTH, rolled “r”) is the counterbalancing feeling, a profound yearning for home that is stronger than homesickness. Neither of these words translates precisely into English.

Berry tells in a Sabbath poem
of his trouble with a heaven
divorced from earth
and I add to it my amen
a say it
and say it again
and I know in my bones
this bent is no warp
nor waywardness
but true-fletched taithchwant
ricocheted off the adamant
face of soul affinity
for the cherished the known
but sent back skyward
by heart sense of long lack
a wanderer’s wish
for this earth and that heaven
to be made
whole again
undivided forever.

I heard an old man’s desire
to remember his bride in that place
and their life in this place
the two becoming one once more
richly textured love of decades
tenderly pruned grief and joy
that only the old can know –
but young again
once and for all
both of them
as they first found each other
in each other’s eyes
in their maker’s eyes
as they will be.

I saw a love measured
by pain and presence
faces studied like scripture
and I saw your face
in my mind
as it opens
only to me
when we are one
the wells of your brown eyes
braziers for fires that never fail
to quench and cool
like sealed cauldrons of earth –
a godlike love
sparing no dross
slowly refining
surely healing
my ferrous
feral heart.

I remembered you
as I first knew you
and saw you
as only a young husband can see
and hunger for his bride
and I felt a keening joy
a home-lust
a measure of my love
for you and no other
for you
to whom I fly