Deirdre Anne Hines – Uisce and her daughters

Hines LE P&W Jan 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing January 2023

Uisce and her daughters, poems by Deirdre Anne Hines.

Uisce and her daughters

Water is the word that contains the flesh,
Where the water diviners like mythical miracles move
Along the dry river course-Uisce and her daughters.
If the world stopped spinning, we still wouldn’t see
Tiddalik the Frog; He who drank all of the water
of Life! Here wolfspiders move like letters
in the crevices of crumbling rocks. And the homeless
harvest grasses for the fires they huddle round
for a memory of warmth-
Beneath the cool of the pitiless moon
Where here 100,000 camels were herded
from Saudi to Egyptian markets, in the long, long ago-

Which of us now remembers
the glint of rainbowed droplets on the scales of the brown trout
hooked up from shadow depths with wriggling worm on bent pin?
Who of us now can promise
the romance of fried fish gifting wisdom to our parched palates?
And yet, still they come
those fishermen of hope, crazed like the sane,
to draw from the arid riverbed, those beasts of legend.

Now that we’ve dug up all the roads that covered
Now that we’ve torn down all the houses that covered
the roads of rivers,
We search for signs in rounded stones and alluvial gravel,
We follow ancient paths recorded in ancient annals
And dig boreholes
to free the wells the waterdiviners coconuts, pendulums
and L-shaped sticks
slant towards-
And then we drink
And drink-until
We are more than throat-

Each well
we find
we mark-
Around her mouth,
we dance,
draw spiral on the stones,
wrap ribbons round
her lips,
throw coins onto

her belly,
tell stories of
her birth,
mark well the stars
gift cloth of blue to
Uisce and her daughters
in thanks and love.

Uisce and her daughters
tell firetales of Grandmother and the time of the first waters-
Always first to the well on May-Eve, to draw Sgaith an Tobar, and first always to throw the tuft of grass into the well to show that the first water, the Sgaith had
been drawn. Each May-Eve night, she gave a warning to the good people, before throwing out the wellwater she washed her feet in. Her cow was decorated in red, and sprinkled with the Sgaith, to keep between her and all of us the bad luck and misfortune.

Grandmother grew old,in the time of the second water, the tapwater, the modern water. Water that didn’t sit in the stomach like the end of a fabulous journey from mountainy peaks, down through the wolfed forests, past the flowered lovers, but in sharp bends in iron pipes full of mechaicals called chemicals and that sat in the stomach like an ache that costs more than the price of medicine.

Grandmother felt as rejected as the fridges, plastic everythings, trolleys and smelly oozes the fans of the latest thing had chucked away. Grandmother had a P.O book,
but no G.D.P. Grandmother had had it up to her long, Children of Lir like neck.
Grandmother wrote herself out of the time of the second water, and returned to the time of the first water, to an island from her youth.

She brought all her sacred self, her cow, and her two L-shaped sticks with her.
There she met some other Grandmothers and some daughters. They followed her
to the waters. She prayed with them and played with them and when a daughter
said that all prayer resonates at 8Hz corresponding to the oscillations of Earth’s
magnetic field, Grandmother knew it was time she taught the daughters how to hear the waves of water , as it’s heard in the ears of water-witchers-

Water witching is an art
passed down the spiral line
As a good witcher walks
She will feel
the pull
of the magnetic line.

The time of the third water never came. The second water returned to the skies to wait the thing addicts out, but in some gentle and reverent places, she revealed herself in robes of rain. And Grandmother is still waiting on that island in the mist, with her daughters and her cow and her L-shaped sticks, for the day of the return of the first waters and all her river daughters.

Uisce water
Sgaith an tobar first water drawn from a sacred well after midnight on May Eve

© Deirdre Anne Hines

Deirdre Anne Hines is an award winning poet and playwright. Her first book of poems ‘The Lnaguage of Coats’ includes the poems which won The Listowel Poetry Collection 2012. Poems of hers have been shortlisted in The Bridport Poetry Prize and The Fish Poetry Prize. Her verse novella for younger readers, ‘The Mermelf’ will be published in 2023 by A&M publishers in London.

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