Breda Wall Ryan – Meadow dreams

Breda Wall Ryan LEP&W V1 Dec 2022

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume one December 2022.

Meadow dreams, poems by Breda Wall Ryan.


Fuchsia bells drip nectar,
bees fly hiveward in thinned light.

Bats in meagre skies
hoover up moths and midges.

I remember bright buttercup, dandelion,
cuckoo pint, sweet clover, vetch and trefoil;
poppy and rosebay willow for mellow mood.

This was my favourite field.
And now?

Rooks tear out divots, feast on leatherjackets.
Pheasants roost in alder, above nightfox reach.
Hedgehogs crunch snails by the compost heap.

The ride-on mower tames wild grasses to lawn.
A John Deere rumbles past, scalping August hedges.
Lights startle small birds into song.

Snarls of motorway traffic trouble the dusk.
A hidden landfill reeks of decay.

Outside of memory,
can the meadow survive?

We Battled Corporate Profit

When the future is here,
say we let maverick seed blow in
from the countryside,
let the lawn grow, dandelion suns
stud the garden, feeding early bees.

And daisies!
Long chains threaded among cuckoo-pint,
clover and meadowsweet.
Tell how we countered Big Pharma
with feverfew and self-heal.

Say we foraged for vetch, sorrel
and juicy hawthorn leaves.
Tell how we fermented wine
from sloe and wild cherry,
toasted success with elderflower champagne.

We grew stonefruit and berries,
made sure the birds got their share,
and their share of insects
and worms fattened
on lush homegrown leaves, pesticide-free.

Tell how we followed guidelines,
turned the thermostat down,
cut our air miles to zero,
took to the cycle lanes, wrapped warm
in patched, pre-owned clothes.

When the future comes,
say we battled corporate profit,
championed old, tried-and-true ways.
Tell Earth, though seas rise and she’s burning,
we go on. We swear we will save her.

The Meadow in Winter

sleeps under a blanket of cold.
A ball of wrens huddle in a branch-fork,
taking turns in the cozy core.

A bird-cherry in the hedge lets her last leaf go.
Buds sheathed against frost-sting,
she flaunts thoughts of blossomy fronds
against tender spring green.

Frogs sunk deep in pond mud
hold hoarse mating songs in throats
that blow bubbles to break still water,
betraying their hiding place.

Under the bird feeder, seeds dream
wheat spears in fissures,
sparrow-shelled sunflower hearts
nudge into frozen ground.

Field mice tunnel tussocked grass,
planning early litters
of pink, hairless mouselets,
they shape secret nests.

Winter is the meadow’s dreamtime,
the place where she sleeps herself awake.

© Breda Wall Ryan

Breda Wall Ryan lives in Co. Wicklow. She has M.Phil. in Creative Writing (Distinction) from Trinity College, Dublin. Her short stories have won prizes, but in recent years she has concentrated on poetry. Individual poems have won the iYeats Poetry Contest, Poets Meet Painters, Dromineer Poetry Competition and Over the Edge New Writer of the Year. She was selected for Poetry Ireland Introductions Series, 2014 and was awarded Second Place in the Patrick Kavanagh Award, a Third Prize in The Rialto/RSPB Nature Poetry Competition, and was shortlisted for a Bridport Prize. Nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize, Forward Prize and Best of the Net Award, she won the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition, 2015 and the Dermot Healey International Poetry Award in 2017. She has been awarded bursaries by Wicklow Arts, The Arts Council/An Comhairle Ealaíon and the Heinrich Boll Association Achill, and residencies at Ty Newedd, Wales; Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Co Monaghan; Cill Rialaig Arts Centre in Kerry and Heinrich Boll Cottage on Achill.  In a Hare’s Eye, her first collection from Doire Press, won a Shine/Strong Award. Raven Mothers, also Doire Press, appeared in 2018. Focussed on the environment and social justice, she is finalising her third collection, due 2023.

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