Beautifully conceived and constructed, The Pond is Davies and Fisher’s second collaboration with Welsh publisher Graffeg. Told through the eyes of a young boy grieving after his father’s death, ‘the muddy, messy hole’ left by the unfinished pond which Dad started to make, is a metaphor for the family’s sense of emptiness.
Fisher’s images combine a symbolic with a realistic portrayal of the changing seasons’ effects on the hole in the ground, echoing and expanding Davies’s stark text. The darkness of the pages where the boy’s grief seems to be sucking him into a vortex, and the following opening where he and his brother trudge glumly past the pond ‘as the days limped on’, is wonderfully countered by the next opening where lightness suffuses the pages as the pond, now properly edged and lined, is filled with water. Dragonflies, pond insects, weed and other forms of life now begin to inhabit the watery space, bringing a subtle reminder of regeneration in the natural cycle, and also of the beauty of nature, when the penultimate opening shows the fulfilment of Dad’s promise with the glorious newly opened water lily flower.
While The Pond is indeed a book about death and grief, I would not like to see it only on the bibliotherapy shelves. This is a book for everyone, about loss and about the celebration of an inevitable onward march of life.