Colette Nic Aodha – Maygar Dancer on a Wooden Box

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Maygar Dancer on a Wooden Box and Other Poems by Colette Nic Aodha,                      award winning Irish poet from Galway in the West of Ireland.


Maygar Dancer on a Wooden Box.

A young girl dreams of a fairy princess
Who dances on the crescent of the moon
In summer, translucent form

Does a grand battement on the lid
Of a wooden box lined with velvet.
Inside a string of diamante

And stones shaped like a beetle
That she pinned to her tutu, they shimmer
In starlight, outside colored birds swim

On enameled surface, an older child
Learned new words; mallard, Brent,
Wood duck, and pressed them to her tongue

I imagine a Hungarian forest
That may have sent this dancer
To her on moonbeams

To inhabit her dreams, she sheds
Her fairy wings and changes them
For ballerina skin, her brows arched

Over the river Bodva
They still carry her song, all creatures
attracted to this music box

By the light of its symphony
Signaling near and far, always composing
A new melody that sets the ballerina to dance…..

Although she has been under a spell
For hundreds of years, unable to move
Her arabesque from its current position

Spectators cannot see
Beyond their own joy, they watch
History but it leaves no impression

Her step and song enchants us,
Ignorant of her story the lore
That is attributed to her, how she

Began life as a fairy princess,
Transformed into a tree
By an evil witch, one of three sisters,

One day a handsome prince
Rescued a fox in a magic forest
Who told him as a reward

The whereabouts of a magic tree
And if a branch were cut
It would break an enchantment

And he would have in his arms
A fairy princess, he would need
To carry water, words became truth,

The rescued princess followed her dream
Of becoming a ballet dancer
To dance in the king’s court

She wears the ring the Hungarian prince
Gave her on the little finger of her left hand
He asks her to go to the beach that night

To hear Spanish drums, watch tanned
youngsters dance, she thinks the rhythm
Of their voices like skin pulled tight over board

Tapped lightly with bone, but assents
As he is her Prince and he rescued her
From three hundred years of silence

Although any union is out of the question
Due to a three hundred year age gap,
She finds it hard to gauge people since

Her release from enchantment, especially men
If they are charming she thinks they laugh
Secretly at her lost years

She is mainly invisible to the youth
As they have no longer any interest
In Princes, trapped fairies or magic forests

It seems to be only her prince who remembers
To check in on her, to give her a hand up
When she falls, to carpet her path

She finds herself doing untypical things
Going to parts of the woodlands
She has never before visited

Wondering what if she had met her prince
Prior to being enchanted, she looks
At the silver ring the prince gave her and wonders

If he descends from great Magyar kings,
She wears his ring on the little finger
Of her right hand. Sometimes she finds,

Unknown to herself, seeking the prince out,
This embarrasses her, but his greeting
Is always warm and he is easily found,

Recites legends of all the tribes, old lore,
Which comforts her almost as much as her dancing,
He descended from leaves of the tree of life,

She, from the trunk, his voice is music
sometimes at night she does a ‘tendu’
To the memory of his soft words,

She takes her ballet shoes and dances rivers,
Mountains, lakes, she dances birds
And finally she dances the magic forest

And inked forms inscribe themselves
On the skin of her prince while he sleeps,
A map to lead him to her heart

The wicked witch hears this journey of ink
And recognizes the fairy princess released.
Next day when the dancer awakes she wonders

What if, just once, her prince wasn’t there
Or didn’t hold out his hand. In assistance
What if she went to the beach and the only

Tightened skin was her own, stretched tight
Over bitter disappointment. She wasn’t sure
If she trusted drums, or the fury of their beat

As if it was egging on some horrible trait,
Perhaps all this is a dream and there
Is no prince just an enchanted forest,

Witches and warlocks, perhaps there
Never was a release, at the end of the day
She just has his word for it, perhaps

He, himself was transfigured, and the rescue
Further enchantment, next morning Charming
Gave her a gift of an even bigger ring

That had in its centre an amber stone
‘For protection’ he told her as he gave her
A drink of wine from a silver chalice

And placed its metal to her lips,
She demurred since it was not yet noon,
He told her to persist with her dance,

His father the king was besotted
With her gift and her performances
At the court were spectacular

And much appreciated, agreed by all
To be gifted at the ‘pirouette a la second’
She noticed again how slim his waist

How he endeavored to fulfill all his obligations
In his father’s land, how he had a pleasant face
And a full and giving smile. She saw a new

Star in the tent of the sky although the sun
Was still very high, but when she went to her mews
She noticed the coffee tasted bitter,

Vowed to grow new beans, that night she danced
Until it was no longer light, flowers had more fragrance,
The tree of life, and honey from bees tasted sweeter,

Her charming. Oblivious to the suspicions of the witch,
She filled, her days with walks in the forest
Trips to the beach, sitting in the company of the prince

Dancing for courtiers and the king,
Now the most famed dancer in the land,
Her own tribe had long dispersed

According to the legend of the prince,
South to Italy, perhaps even as far as Sicily
A place she would love to see

She went again to search for the prince
In the forest, on the beach,
That night she was unable to dance,

Kept seeing ancient ‘Bábá’ everywhere
Her way to her prince had been severed,
Worried her magic had been intercepted

She set out for the castle but was accosted
By Boszorkany, her nemeses, who changed
Her own daughter to take the place of the fairy

Princess then cast a spell and set the fairy
To dance for the next nine hundred years
On top of her own music box

This box renews itself every fifty years,
It’s music always entrancing
The wooden box forever changing.


The Last Three Days.

Saturday morning vendors
And purchasers of fish line up
Either side of large metal trays

Down at the harbour wall,
Open air market remains unchanged.
Though it is still early many make their

Way to the beach, my morning walk
Takes me to the seafront. A gift
Of a silver ring by a one-time Prince,

Yellow and blue sapphires to adorn
My breast, he buys me coffee, saltwater
Leaves a stain on my skin and flames within,

A chubby lagarto in camouflage of indigo
Crawls on a pile of stones,
Pauses and crawls, pauses and crawls.

I heard it whisper my name,
Unrequited in life, a lonely coil;
Tiger eyes, tiger eyes. Sharp rocks

Seem to froth and flow with regularity
It is the end of Summer break
Soon everything will have Winter’s paint

Even the laughter of children’s steps
Will need a new coat, I study the shape
Of trees, search for orange blossoms

Dogs are walked in pairs, a man
From Senegal puts a hand carved
Ornament on my table

Locals with beach umbrellas slung
Over their shoulders on the way to the sea
Benches are full of elderly men and their friends

I countdown my last three days, assemble
Gems on the dressing table, choose none.
Consume flowers in the shape of birds,

Ivory shaped bone, cloud comfort,
The sound of metal on metal,
Fair skinned flesh on stone.



How is it that Eve always gets
the Angel’s share
I see oxblood seep from her
half opened mouth
as she sinks her teeth
into a Persian Prince
while a peahen hides her shame
in the shade of an apple tree,
lioness and deer
curled up at the feet
of the First Lady of Eden.


?Dreaming of Annaghmakerrig

The bird who lives in the chimney is without peer at the Tyrone Gutherie Centre, Annaghmakerrig as are the fresh growth of bluebells, rhododendron petals that flutter onto gravel,

the silver of the lake away from the shade of conifers the quick step of the jogger the returning walker afternoon light on drumlins

copper beech with it’s oxblood leaves
the design of branches
a persistent wasp
or the distant buzz of freshly cut grass.

© Colette Nic Aodha

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