Skip to main content
SearchLoginLogin or Signup

Jacob's Ladder

A poem accompanying the photo series by Zillah Bowes

Published onApr 20, 2023
Jacob's Ladder


The path slips down, its gravel browning

with pinheads of moss dropped by the sun

through winter bracken-fern-bramble, line


crossed by the green breakwater, previously

the red before the north and east lights were

switched they said last night in the rugby club.


The bay seems to rock the dormant string

of lamp posts, missing only a casing and bulb

or two, as if they’ll amber-awake at dusk.



These strewn rocks, were they always here

or did someone roll them, weekend boys

fifty years ago playing football then down


to the ball alley, hollow concrete reservoir

on the cliff edge. This cut branch was right

here last week, un-knocked by the storm.



Cream-grey lichen on a knee of rock, shine facing

the sea and opposite headland, wind coming in

from somewhere I don’t know, its past mixing

with me here, the people who built the harbour

and Alan’s dad who walked first the wooden then

the concrete steps to guard the train to London.


This view over, over. A new incomer understands

the old pride here: 32 cruise liners this summer!

I instinctively think bus when Jan says they ship


them off to places like St Davids for the day. We’re

above the passing-through, looking beyond. Sea. Dai

walks Humphrey down to the port with the gate key.


Ferry once a day. Stop-start of traffic below. Kinship

on a level with Dinas Island. The main village road

even with fences, the back road bowed with DIY walls.


Directly above Fishguard Harbour, Harbour Village was built to accommodate railway workers during the construction of the harbour, which opened in 1906 for ferries to Ireland and then further afield. Descendants of the first residents still live in the village. On completion of the railway to London, the Cunard Line sailed between New York and Fishguard for a number of years. 

The steps at the end of the path from Harbour Village down to the harbour are known locally as ‘Jacob’s Ladder’. See the photography series accompanying this poem here.

No comments here
Why not start the discussion?