On the day that I was nearly famous
I went saving turf on Dermie’s bog.
In purple skirt and black jumper
I leaned into the handle of the old fork
smiling through my splintered life
which is still my way.
Photo Credit Nutan.
With over a week gone since Halloween there’s no excuse for this type of poem but yesterday I went walking in my favourite woods . Shinrin-yoku has a lot to answer for!
(To be sung in a screechy witch-like voice)
Thru the scary forest
chanting as I tramp,
higgeldy piggeldy wiggeldy woods,
tortured limbs and twisted boughs,
shaking leaves and quaking knee’s
and tumbling down and down’
‘Who goes there?’
I ask one tree (in a deep bearlike voice) wiping down my muddy knees.
But it doesn’t answer.
It’s too busy dancing to it’s own tune.
Here is a poem I wrote to go with a piece on my yellow bicycle blog, about how it became fashionable for Victorian artists to romanticise the west of Ireland and the women in their red petticoats.
It is a poem that is simple to recite, with a story to tell, a poem that I could put a tune to if the humor took me.
A ballad really.
(it actually goes well sung slowly to the tune of ‘The parting glass’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chOiVoScz8A Go on, try it yourself and you’ll see, but I will find an original tune for it)
Oh Weaver weft me a piece of cloth,
of your finest cotton,
for linen is harder to dye they say
and I wish to dye it purple.
Oh Dyster dye my piece of cloth
But do not use the madder*
For I wish not to wear a petticoat red
but one the color of heather.
Oh Seamstress sow me a petticoat
from the cloth I have you handed,
and stitch in each pleat, the morning light
and I will surely wear it.
Oh Poet pen me a simple song
of the purple skirt I have round me,
and weave through each fold a story of love
and I will softly sing it.
Oh Artist paint in my petticoat
not in red or blue or yellow,
but paint it in a purple hue
the color of the heather.
So he painted her skirt in a purple hue,
then kissed it’s hem most dearly
and she smiled and turned with her sleán* in hand
and went into the morning early.
photo credit to http://www.nutan.ie/ireland
*madder: a plant whose roots were used to dye clothe red.
*sleán: a tradional tool for cutting the turf
One of my favourite walks at this time of the year is up the glen of the downs in Co Wicklow. There is one point along the steep path where I like to stop and look down into the valley through the gnarled limbs of the young oaks (young in that they are probably only 150 years old) and for some reason feel obliged to come up with a short poem about what I see, but my words always sound so contrived so I try to refrain.
NO NEED FOR WORDS.
No need for words
The photo says enough
But I cant help myself
Tediously twisted tortured tangled trees )
I have a favorite walk not far from where I live that never disappoints.The sand track, running parallel to the beach, appears mundane initially but on closer inspection, throws up such treasures that it keeps me ‘on my toes’ or rather keeps my eyes on their toes (If such a thing is possible.)
Everything on my morning walk
ask the skeleton of the wild carrot
why it stops me in my tracks,
becomes a work of art.
look how it raises its hands in supplication
As though humbly begging the sky to pay it some attention.
In a country that experiences as much rain as Ireland does, especially in the winter, to witness the perfect sunrise on the last day of the year is indeed a rare phenomenon.
THE LAST SUNRISE OF THE YEAR
Checking that the rain is gone,
hauling itself over the horizon
is applauded by a single wave
A perfect Grand finale
Many years ago, to celebrate finishing my nursing studies, A friend and I cycled to wicklow. It was the first time I really thought about how far one could get on a bicycle. We had no plan and no map, just followed the local signposts.
Now wicklow is a very mountainous county and our bikes being single speed often meant getting off and pushing them over hilly terrain but every morning we rose from our youth hostel beds with renewed determination not to be deterred by any road just because of a steep incline.
One morning, our curiosity aroused by the name on the signpost, we made our way along the steep road to the devils glen. Recently I returned there for a walk.
It started out innocently enough.
Purely to clear the cobwebs of the last week.
A woodland walk of
trees, bushes, ferns, a leafy path, a wandering river, some dappled sunlight, a wooden bridge,
the usual sort of foresty stuff.
did I say wooden bridge!
I step warily across
waiting to be accosted
by the voice of childhood past
‘Who dares to go trip tropping across MY bridge’
Says the angry troll, goblin, leprechaun
(take your pick)
‘it is just I’
My voice trembles or maybe it’s the bridge as
I trip across safely.
and ahead is there a story?
about a girl who dared pass under a fallen rock
I hold my breath and try to remember
but make it safely under all the same
and travelling onward without looking back
(I don’t fancy being turned into a pillar of salt).
along Yeats-like stolen paths
to the waterfall
not quite as astounding as glencar
but just as mesmerizing.
I sit and watch it thunder
until the day grows dark
then back through the rock
and over the bridge I run
I don’t remember passing
the alice in wonderland tree
or the sleeping beauty castle.
The devils glen is named so by the victorians because they likened the noise of the waterfall to the roar of the devil. The Irish name for it is An Gleann Mór. p.s the last two photos are from the glen o’ the downs walk I braved later.
A while ago i wrote of how
i was filled with words
but something has happened since then
it’s my heart that’s full
(my brain has emptied)
i no longer want to speak
or even write since summer has arrived
Instead I want to leave those jumbled words behind
where wildflowers grow haphazardly in soft purple ditches
where rushes whisper by lonely lakes and white bog cotton shyly dips
her wispy head among rows of darkened turf
and clouds are of importance
where blue shadowed mountains are mysterious and beckoning
where the singing sea is soothing
where i can be silent and wandering
i will go there soon enough
I occurred to me this morning.
It is lucky I love words
I am filled to the brim with them.
even as I wake they are up before me
(At night I go to sleep before them)
And as quickly as I spit them out
I fill up with more
So I have two blogs on the go
(One for stories
another for poetry)
I plaster words on paper, type them on my laptop
and still they come
I would have thought I’d have run out by now.
Maybe I should meditate instead
I can be hard on myself and judgemental too. Berating myself when I fall down on my writing or painting. The last year has been one of the busiest I remember (I count my year from spring to spring) It has been filled to the brim. I wonder how it went so fast and I ponder over what I achieved. Then it occurs to me, how silly!
As the tide doesn’t measure
or judge the grains of sand it covers
I look back over the year
And try not to judge or keep count
of the good or not so good
It was mostly good.
a run for cover
cold coffee to be continued in the shelter of the glass house
and then its over
the sun strikes the first apple blossom
I pick up the wet handled shovel and turn another sod
make another lazy bed*
Make hay while the sun shines.
* A ‘lazybed’ is a traditional way of planting spuds particularly in the west of ireland where the soil can be very thin above the rock. It is an ingenious affaire. Starting on a patch of grass, mark out the length and width of your bed with cuts from the shovel. The length depends on the size of your plot but the width is important (It needs to be approximately one and a half metres wide at the start) Manure or seaweed is placed down the center directly on the grass and your potatoes zigzagged on top of the manure. Then you lift the sod from each side and cover the spuds neatly. If you get a nice angle, the sod will fit together exactly, sealing in the spuds. The grass rotting underneath adds heat and extra manure and encourages the spuds grow quickly and strongly. Its a great way of breaking up new ground too.
Holding a packet of seeds
I read ‘broad beans’
and tearing off the top I pour them into my hand
where they lie
brown and leathery like miniature purses
filled only with hope
for who would believe inside each withered case
is the makings
of a green and leafy stalk
when visited by a bee
will set and behind each falling flower
a tiny pod
and growing all the while
till four or five plump beans
are ready for my plate.
I lay them one by one
reverently into the soft damp soil
if there is a prayer
to start them on their journey
I have already said it with my wonder.
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