Goronwy told me to hold the wand, keep it still, he would head down the slope and would walk until he was probably out of sight and no matter what happened I was to stay there and hold that wand steady and to keep it vertical. That was a word he needed to explain to me, but as he said, I was chosen because I asked when I didn’t understand but also listened when I was told and only had to listen once and then would remember. Those were his reasons, and he held out the wand one way so it was level with the land and said this is horizontal, then he turned it to point to the sky and the earth and said this is vertical. And when he did this he shaped his other hand in a way that connected all these things. I was trying to do this with my other hand as I held the wand, but couldn’t remember exactly how he did it.
I could feel a soft wind blowing from the sea, Goronwy headed down the hill, his long hair flying sideways, and he clasped a wand himself and used it to keep himself steady. He was old, like most of the priests, maybe even beyond fifty.
‘Goron-weeeee’ I whispered into the wind, ‘Goron-weeeee’. That name used to make us shudder when we were tiny. It was the name for the man we thought was a ghost, or so old he should have been one. And now here he was talking to me. Listen to him, Dad said, he will tell you everything he knows and then you could follow in his footsteps. Listen to him, Mum said, and one day you could help us get out of this hovel. So now I watched where he walked, down the slope and imagined it was me, those thin legs, that slightly arched back, but I was not allowed to follow in his footsteps, I had to stay here, holding the wand, vertical. It swayed slightly in the wind so I had to grip it with both hands and then Goronwy turned and staring at me began to walk backwards, then he made sideways steps, first many, then a few and then one or two and then he thrust his wand into the soil.
And now he beckoned me, so I made my way towards him down the slope and as I did I held the wand above my head, horizontal.
You see, he said, pointing back, there is Middle Hill, and beyond you can just see the peak of Camlo Hill. I’ve stopped here to plant the staff as it locks up Camlo to Middle to here.
We were drawing lines across the land, he said, to know how everything connects. We will start with the land, and then one day, the sea. And then he stopped talking for a moment and looked up. And one day, he said, yes, the sky.
I wanted to ask him how we could measure the sky, but didn’t want to ask a stupid question, so I just looked up and made a thoughtful expression.
And when we have measured the land, the sea and the sky we will connect it all, imagine, he said, all the lines, fine hairs, he looked down for a moment. Pass me that, he said, pointing to a fuzz of sheep’s wool in the turf. You see, he said, picking out a strand, imagine all these threads, crisscrossing the world in every direction, we will be weaving together the meaning of the infinite.