Summer Solstice Full Moon

We have this unusual circumstance of experiencing a full moon very close to the longest day of the year on June 21st. Up here where I live the light is long into the night. Living without light polution from electrical street lighting, the full moon makes a holy show of herself every month, so long as we don’t have cloud cover. I have been waking at intervals to see both moonshine adn very early light. Even around 2:30 am it is not full dark. You can still see the outlines of trees and buildings. With the moonlight and no cloud we shall just have a a lot of twilight. Which is betwixt and between time. So it seemed wise to write a wee poem celebrating the Good People, aka the Other Crowd,or just as The Fey Ones. You know! Fairies!

The June Full Moon is sometimes known as the Mead Moon, Strawberry Moon or Honey Moon (yes, June has always been a popular wedding month, but it might also refer to all those old time Bealtaine Hand Fastings on May Day. It’s the early days of a marriage.)

Mead Moon

What will the long light illuminate,
sun and moon at full wattage demonstrate?
Will the dark corners be all honey sweet?
Or strawberry juicy? Mead moon's special treat,
the yin and the yang are fully switched on,
partying hearty right through and past dawn.
Spare a thought for the Wee People. Leave some
favours - a thimble f mead, some cake crumbs/
A good time for feasting. Be neighbourly.
The bright moon and long daylight is surely
a recipe for a cottage ceilí.
When this world and the other can shake hands,
sing, dance and cuddle in the borderlands.



Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Corleck Head

Everything before written records is mystery and speculation. That makes it a writer’s imagination’s playground. Even archaeologists speculate and best guess on the assembled evidence. But it is palimpsest, the layers of our own conditioning and experience inform the guess. Back at the Cavan County Museum another artefact grabbed me. The Corleck Head was found near Kilbride, Brigid’s Church. From that I infer that the cult of the goddess Brighid was important here before the Christian St. Brigid took over all Her associations and pre-occupations (fertility, poetry, healing, smithcraft). It is supposed that the Celts thought the human soul resided in the head, although I am unclear of the provenance of that belief. Brighid was a triple goddess – the triune maiden, mother, crone – and the Corleck Head with it’s three-way visage does echo that, although the faces look quite masculine to me. 

At any rate this Sunday you can have fun making up your own story!

Corleck Head

Back to back

Facing out three ways

Who know what might

Be met at the crossroads?

One to watch. One to fight.

One to sound alarm and live

To tell the tale.

Shoeless

The trip yesterday to the Cavan County Museum in Ballyjamesduff filled the creative store cupboard in countless ways. Two exhibits provide the inspiration for today’s poetry practice. There is an outdoor re-creation of a World War I Somme battlefield trench system. Chilling and illuminating simultaneously. I have read about Casualty Clearing Stations in novels. They were tiny spaces, the size of a box room, in reality, with up to nineteen wounded men in at a time.

Indoors there were many exhibits, but the Famine room included shoes found at a famine cemetary site beside a workhouse. The guide explained to the children just how precious shoes and boots were to the poor. We seldom realise the grinding poverty of previous generations, how cold they must have been in these northern climes even in summer, to have gone shoeless. I have neighbours who are barely eighty who went shoeless most of their childhood. He told this story: The family had a pair of First Communion shoes that were brought out about a hundred metres from the church. He put them on to walk in for his Communion Day. He walked out and on the way home they were taken off at the same spot away from the church, and saved for the next child’s special day.

Shoeless


Step into the shoes
of the dead departed who
have no further need.
They cannot hunger or bleed.
But their smell lingers -
trench foot, fever, the final fear.
But needs must they say.
They'll take me a mile, if, please God,
I'm granted another day.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

workhouse shoes
Shoes found at a Workhouse cemetary

The Great Hunger

The Irish Famine might seem an odd topic of discussion over a Sunday lunch. My Husband took some mild ribbing from me because he panics if we run out of potatoes. But another of the indigenous Irish around the table admitted she shares the same syndrome. Which gave pause for thought…It is as if the collective memory of Black ’47 is engraved in their psyches. Even though today we can just run down to the Spar shop and buy a bag if the cupboard is bare of spuds. Trauma like that is drilled down in the collective unconsciousness. Epigenetics studies have shown how trauma changes cortisol levels and this is passed down to succeeding generations. Which got me considering survivor guilt – the veteran combatants who return home from war when their buddies do not,  the inmates of concentration camps who evaded the death machine and live to see liberation day, those who do not succumb to great plague or famine when millions fall by the way side.


The Great Hunger

The eternal ‘why me’

But not them…

Was it the grass I ate,

or tulip bulbs,

the raids on bird’s nests,

the soup of seaweed?

What strange kismet 

alchemised into earthly afterlife?

Why no fever pit fate?

Did I pay for my porridge pot slops

with an article of faith?

What did I pledge

to spare me,

allowing me the luxury

of having descendents?

Why do some of us persist

even if it is just

for the sake of existence?

That we will not,

cannot,

forsake the land.

We are the land.

With some of us,

that meagre band,

She will never let go of

with Her iron hand.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith

Not a Normal Morning

Jo! It’s happened again. Overnight the aliens abducted your friend and she is all weird and full of get up and go on rising.

As my husband, family members, or any friends who have inhabited communal space with me know, Barbara is not a Chatty Cathy in the morning. As my friend Nigel once said, ” The body has come downstairs. The spirit will arrive in another fifteen minutes.” We observe radio silence in the house in the morning. Even young children in my care learned early, radio silence is sacrosanct. You do not want to tamper with the tender and fragile early morning instrumentation in this vessel.

Except this morning I woke up like this.

Once, I did wake up all bouncy and conversational. That was after a sound bath the night before. My friend Diarmuid asked me, “Why are you so talkative this morning?” and my perky reply was, “I’ve been up since 5am.” And Jo, still nursing her first cup of coffee, was thinking “Goddess, please make her shut up! We liked the other version of her better.”

None of these circumstances apply. I had an uninterrupted nine hours sleep. I cleaned for forty-five minutes, for feck’s sake, before I even switched on the kettle for my morning beverage. Which is the morning ritual. Let dog out. put kettle on. Make tea. Let dog back in. Start writing.

I’m freaking myself out!

Switch

Mornings are not usually
turbo charged.
I'm a one litre kinda gal
without much
pick up to get up and motor
into day.

What happened overnight?
Did someone
go tinker under my bonnet?
Turbo charge
my morning engine, change spark plugs,
recircuit
my fuel injection system?

Because this is one alien
this morning
in my body, tearing into
some cleaning!
Before the writing! And that is
mind blowing,
disorienting. And just plain
so not me.

Maybe aliens abducted
the old me,
coughing engine, shoddy body work,
inserting
some weird kind of new circuitry
that make me
go all handmaiden to the cats
who really
have inherited my planet..


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Excuse me while I just go clean my very dirty house before the battery in the robot that invaded my body overnight runs flat. Women writers are not particularly famous for being enthusiastic housekeepers.

Featured image Photo by Charlotte Coneybeer on Unsplash

Fractal

I slept long and late, secure in the fact that I do not need to be in the classroom before 1pm. Our house was as still as Sleeping Beauty’s castle until nearly 10am. Certain threads of personal cogitation have tangentially found their way into the late morning’s poetry practice.  Fractals, ancient rock art, cup and ring marks….Today’s Poetry Daily is in blank verse. Sorry there is no image. I just could not get an upload to play…and I must be away into the day! (I remedied this later on.)

Fractal

Consider nature, the fractals in trees,

the ever repeating pattern growing,

growing larger and larger and larger-

the swirling out of sunflower seedheads,

the upwards spiral staircase in pine cone,

the rippling of waves on an inward tide.

We imitate the lines and curves we see.

The  cup and ring marks inspire labyrinths,

ancient showing ancient a deeper way

of seeing how the world is being made.

Just as the whorls on the palms of our hands

are regular, but unique, patterns made,

which ancient ancestors laid in ochre

on cave walls -even the baby’s – handprints

waving at us from beyond time and grave.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith

 

hand in cup and ring marks

Memorial

Those readers who will have seen my Armistice Day poem, Collateral Damage, last 11th November will probably have guessed I have a strong pacifist allegiance.  As one with early Quaker ancestors in my motherline  perhaps those tendencies are written onto some chromosome. In the land of my birth this is Memorial Day weekend.  Which led me to contemplate the memory in the word memorial as much as the monuments we make to the dead. Living as I do in a mythic part of Ireland that was home to megalith makers, my mind began to roll over a few rocks. (“What is it with you about rocks, Bee?!” I can hear My friend Mick query.) This is the Poetry Daily for Memorial Day weekend.


Memorial

What is it within us

so millenially deep,

this need to mark in stone,

to resurrect rocks to stand,

to surround and ground our dead?

Stone memory of them

who have become bone, ash, dust,

who have become the light

that once danced in falling star

that met magma, became man.

Here lies someone, who’s ours,

even those nameless remains

we remember, mark rock.

Stone makes us immortal,

takes us back to the cosmic.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith