Movement, into open, this Earth is now an ocean and our toes eager to taste the tide again. Roads are waves, cars are accompanying dolphins, schools of fish, cruising outside of classrooms. Movement, into open, we are astronauts teaching ourselves how to stabilise our legs on old streets that come to us like giant steps onto new moons. Motion sickness triggered in these minor moves we used to make blindfolded and now take, breathless. We are bouncing Ariels and Armstrongs. Movement, into open with that far field still stuck to the sole, masked now with vaccined assurances where before we had a hat and that hurry. Minor movements we are making; the universe no longer as big as a 20 minute bus ride that drops us off in leaps of elated exhaustion. And so, even more, we say thank you to the drivers of busses and trains and taxis and check-out assistants and shop keepers and sales teams and chemists and nurses and doctors and the girl who stabbed me yesterday with Pfizer and a 15 minute pause to preserve.
Come Imbolc / we’ve left the gate on the latch / waiting
Come Imbolc / turn us over and all else / out We’ve left out straw to ignite ashes into action Into obliteration / cleanse this dust / this despair
Come Imbolc / empty us / our bellies lie open Eager to be burped / belched / unburdened We have eaten our own fears and grown fat
Come Imbolc / there’s an empty bed / for later / after And the gate is off the latch / has long been off while we waited and the door has long creaked of welcome
Winter stayed too long / we grew weak / under its weight Under all this waiting / swallowed all we did not want to see
Come Imbolc, carve the fear from the tissue we’ve choked on That festered in these bellies / come bring it out / unbirth it
Tomorrow we will light a candle / burn the memory and the ash / the ash will turn to notes as we sing of your return.
Imbolc is the festival celebrating the beginning of Spring and I wrote this poem based on a Poetry Prompt from Catherine Ann Cullen, poet in Residence at Poetry Ireland via Twitter on St. Brigid’s Day which was the 1st February 2021
I read this poem on last weekend’s episode of Eat the Storms, the Poetry Podcast…
9 is not yet known to this Sunday morning
but already I’m playing catch up with the dawn
in a once foreign field now renamed home,
running after breaths and age that is unobtainable
like caressing clouds or surviving on the sap of stems
where needles immerse nettles in a loneliness
we have come now to understand
as we make small steps out of the reeds of isolation.
There will be a telling later, after, in how we survived
the conservation in place of consumerization.
Will we continue running to catch up, later, after,
with all we lost or come out to shed the macho master
of the world masquerade and realise we’re all nettles
standing in the shadows of much brighter flowers,
our skins stabbed with too many stings
to truly get close to the truth of who we could be.
Wondering how to move now after such torpidity, wondering how to recognise now the trenches as we take slow steps across the battle fields of playgrounds, bus stops and aisles packed with questions of contagion carried in other people’s trollies. Wondering how to move again after such paralysis- limbs lurching as thoughts shift forward and then back as if it were a dance.
There’s a couple dancing, always, in a field of folly in the 8th, in Paris, in faraway France. She wears a red hat of nonsense upon coiffed hair and he- a blue suit, a little worn, a little withered like himself but they dance, always, next to a bridge where a fountain once moved to the melody.
They dance in a moment, a single solid moment, a moment that has past, like they have and the hand too that turned this stone into a study of a couple who hold each other tightly. But they are statue. Stone. Still.
They’ve been caught on a note that a band once played, for a moment before they packed up and left. We are now careful dancers, stepping out bravely to catch that next note before the band moves on.
Last month, in the first breath of this coming season of the sun’s light, you crept in through the stillness of the solitude that the birds had begun to sing of and spread out across the swaying branches as we foraged for distractions beneath. I climbed you, on occasion, to release my feet from the whispers that trembled along the surface of the earth’s floor, spiralling out like panicked weeds whose roots were as invisible as the dust we cannot contain. You’ve since fallen from sight, white tears that only the birds recall in an evening song that stirs the stillness while we still hang to an invisible weight, waiting to be told we can safely let go.
Slow hum. Morning beckons- delicate dance of daisies, baby bunny in back garden thinking it’s his whole world, even the breeze is bouncy. Breath better than before. Slow hum of day unfolding, footsteps on sidewalks, sights on slow lanes, softly humming. Even runners head towards hedges now- hedge funds thrown to the ditch- see the bunny bouncing far from the banks. Slow hum, songs from tall trees in place of traffic, alarms, sirens. A hushed hum dedicated to the lost light- birds sing of wings now rising, nests have grown cold even under all this sunlight. Some have flown, others simply slowed, missing the integration under the hallow hum of this softly slung isolation. Slow hum.