Autumn commute (but also, Ireland II.)

Even at this early hour, the deep, jewel-blue of evening is already fading to night’s darker hues beyond the buildings. Still in the city’s small heart, though, the sky glows and refracts between windows, brightened by the lights from inside, the street-lamps outside.

There is a quickening, an energy as commuters move away from the centre, a flow that pulls us all along for a block or two until the shift to calm that comes with the transition to neighbourhoods.

Then it is dark, night descends quickly, a blanket sprinkled with the twinkling of porch lights. The cold wind refreshes, blows nostalgia at me through a small park; the scent of fallen leaves.

This is home. It is familiar. Canadian.

I love this about where I live – the familiarity, the nostalgia, the ease of moving around here, of knowing what to expect, season after season.

And yet, the other half of my heart continues to tug me, as it always has, toward Ireland.

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Ireland I.

It was momentous for me – going back. In the months and weeks leading up to the trip, I had been so busy with work and life that I hadn’t really considered how it would feel to be there again. At some point, I had actually thought I didn’t want to go, though I suspect now that was some form of self-preservation. Steeling myself against the onslaught of emotion.

It wasn’t until we were on the plane that I allowed the excitement and anticipation and meaning of it all to cascade over me. I smiled, my heart tripped over itself, my eyes filled with tears.

And now, on the other side, it is all just a memory. Ephemeral. Wisps of not-quite-real.

*

We all have our personal myths, our stories that make up who we are, gathered and guarded, told and re-told to ourselves, to anyone who might listen.

Mine has always been Ireland.

First it was Ireland The Dream. That began when, at the age of 2, I had the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem as my imaginary friends. This dream followed me through school – my room a deep green and adorned with a map of Ireland – and an undergraduate degree in Celtic Studies, when I was also President of the university’s Celtic Society.

Next, I moved to Ireland and my myth grew and spread. I was the one who stayed. The one who moved there.

I never wanted to leave. It was a whim, really. I followed a boy back from Ireland to Canada. At first, I pined for my memories, my life there, my dream. My pining turned to bitterness when the relationship fell apart. I gave up all thoughts of going back.

Until this year. It was my mother’s 75th birthday and I suggested we do a trip to mark the 20th anniversary of the first time we had gone, bringing my son along on the adventure.

*

And so there I was. On the plane. The full significance of it all just dawning.

Aiteacht* (The poets saw it first)

Hail forever, poets, harpers, artists:
you of privilege who
by your dream-trance visions
have seen and heard
we recognize your right of demand;
sing and bring to us
(mere mortals)
the truths of existence
the extent of extent –
the time of distance,
the space of time.
You alone among us sense
the secrets from beyond
you alone have crossed boundaries
we may not cross.
Bring forth now to us your Death Tale
from the mists of invisibility.
As you have seen it,
so be it.

 

*meaning “sensation of things being not quite right but not being able to tell why.”

A long overdue poem inspired by a Druid Gaelic Dictionary I found online, prompted by the NaPoWriMo day 17 prompt which suggested creating a poem around words found in a specialized dictionary. Interestingly, there is a druidic term (achar feadha’s feadh achair, which the dictionary explains is “untranslatable”) for what quantum physics now tells us about gravity; that it is not a force of attraction but a curvature in the fabric of space-time.

The bleakest months

In winter’s bleakest dark-day months
when winds whip in from churning briny sea
and wraith-clouds storm and race each other –
grey shades scudding o’er ragged countryside –
ravens soar and call for war into the solitary void;

when only rocks will shelter sheep from rain,
tumbled down through browning gorse and broom,
still stonefenced pastures hold their brilliant green
from white-dressed hills down to steely waves,
and fog-kissed leaves sparkle in the gloam;

Those cruel months would call me out to stand,
hands skyward,
to watch and feel and breathe the power of the land.

 

 

The cruelest months, I find, are the most beautiful. NaPoWriMo day 4.

 

 

Mists of green and gold and myth

Oh land of happy wars and sad love songs, of failed uprisings promising freedom: I have drunk from your myth since birth, your wings – those ideals, blind faith – lifted me up, called me home and I answered, believed, held the dream up to the sun and let the light pierce it with rainbows, closed my eyes and willed the years and miles to crumble until I believed myself a part of the words proclaimed, the deeds celebrated.

Among ghosts, I trail my fingers over bullet-dimpled patterns, breathe the gold and green air of expectation, taste the dust and smoke, celebrate and mourn and sing and weep for a dream idealized (realized?).

But life is never so vibrant, never so symbolic, as a dream and with this one, though I wake from it sometimes, unintentionally (do not think on it too deeply lest its magic fade), I allow the taste of the memory to linger, to enshroud me and hold me in its thrall for as long as it will keep me.

In honour of the Easter Rising centenary and the dreams of this Irish descendant.
Opening phrase borrowed from Irish musician, Tommy Makem.