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WHENEVER she passed the piano room and heard him play Mozart or Bach, she would pause, listening through every pore. And when he smiled his teeth were lovely, almost perfect. But Wolfi had said, Bad seed. And the tension between father and son scraped like nails on a blackboard. Wolfi quietly slid in beside her.

'No,' said his father, 'this kind of folksy music does not appeal.' 'In the pub down the road from us at home, you can hear real music, Mr Quantz,' she said. 'Popular music but real. Partsinging so perfect it brings tears to your eyes. Bryn Calvaria, Myfanwy do you know those songs?' 'Oh, are you going to sing, Taf? Hush, everyone, Taf's going to sing.' 'Don't be daft, Lynne.' 'Go on, Issie. Everyone's agog.' 'No, stop it.' But she did, she lifted up her voice, a powerful contralto, chapel-born, and arrestingly sure of itself. Myfanwy. The men around Isolde stared, went quiet to listen, and she herself seemed to listen, as if some other person sang. At the points of most passionate longing, instead of increasing volume, the voice reined itself in. Face lit from above by a lamp, centred by the attention of those around her, she brought the party to spellbound silence, until moments after the final note.

'Is this one of your English songs?' 'Welsh,' she said. 'I come from Wales. It's a country with its own language.' They asked her to translate and while in translation the text failed lamely, the mood altered. The company gave voice again, replying to her hiraeth with their Heimweh. Ein' feste Burg was built as a tower of voices, and folk songs in the minor key were sung until the choir waxed (as happened at home, upstairs in the Oystercatcher) lachrymose.

> The Element of Water by Stevie Davies is published by Parthian in the Library of Wales series CONTINUES TOMORROW


The Element of Water by Stevie Davies

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 29, 2019
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