Bride is in the snowdrops,
inside the green-tipped bells –
and more frost forecast.
The moon sharpens
in a star-shot sky
and the Crone keens,
rages through branches,
in her dark kaleidoscope.
First thin light
and here is Bride
crouched among stamens:
petal-skinned February girl
with a knife
in her smile –
slowly she is coiling
the bloodied Crone
back into her womb.
Imbolc: one of the ancient Celtic festivals, 1st February
Bride: Christianised version of the Maiden, Spring aspect of the Celtic Triple Goddess.
The Crone: Winter aspect of the Triple Goddess.
The Cailleach cannot be stopped.
Patiently she births herself
from the body of the green girl,
my mirror tells me this.
I watch the Old One coming,
wind catching and flapping her rags,
ruffling the feathers of her raven
whose watchful head leans close.
She shuffles through dry leaves
to stand behind my left shoulder
and I hand her the unmarked oval
of my face. Then she smiles
my seasons into me, so implacable
and tender that I want to keep her.
In the mirror I watch her leave
ankle-deep in the blossoms
of my eighteen year-old spring;
but I have her now, in my skin,
in the light patterning of crow's feet,
the steady lines strung between us.
Cailleach (Gaelic) :Old woman. Winter aspect of the Celtic Triple Goddess
At first I see just painted strings,
a thicket from ceiling to floor,
with denser darkness at its centre,
simply twine and spotlit gloss,
but with a shift of weight, sleight of eye,
the space between the strings becomes
thin windows, strips of ice, or crystal pipes
from some fantastic organ. Breezes whine
and chime through brittle tubes
and coalescent air invents rooms,
a castle of glass, perhaps a princess
locked in rosy stasis, waiting
for her poisons to be lanced
upon the lips of some hero,
who is really her own self, stronger,
waiting in the late night gallery
where strings are brambles
and the artist transforms air.
She realises her daughter has been taken
when she finds the spoon, syringe
and powder ground from poppy sap.
From her grainy fields Demeter stares
into the faultline,
watches darkness slither towards her.
She knows her shining girl is really gone
when she comes home only to steal,
mumbling the language of the underworld
to blight her mother’s ears,
the ways and moods of that sterile place
hanging on her like smoke.
Unflinching in her grief, this mother
would defoliate the summer fields
but poisoned earth is killing crops
faster than she can, distorted winds
uproot the trees, and in the universities
they are dismantling the necklaces of life.
No living coin to bargain with,
she tracks her child to Hades’ laminated halls.
The clean contempt of doctors smacks
against her sky-filled eyes. She listens
like a mountainside,
while, in the trudging corridors,
Persephone smells barley
and remembers how it shone.
all poems featured on this site remains with the