Breda Wall Ryan – Pathways

Profile Breda Wall Ryan LE P&W Dec V One 2018

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Pathways, poems by Breda Wall Ryan

Breda Wall Ryan’s debut collection, In a Hare’s Eye, (Doire Press 2015) won the Shine/Strong Award. She has an M Phil in Creative Writing (Distinction) from Trinity College, Dublin. Widely published internationally and translated into several languages, her awards include The Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Award and the Dermot Healy International Poetry Award. Her second collection, Raven Mothers (Doire Press 2018) is due in October. She lives and writes by the sea.


(i) Daydreamer

Explorer of the dream world,
sit motionless, consider the sky:

cumulus divines meaning from vapour,
a severed head talks to itself;

a pileus skullcap, its cloud eyes dissolve
skyblue mirrors of ancient ice;

a muzzled voice reflects a cry unheard
in nebulous mountains.

Free-float upside down
through wispy altostratus,

spill the truths you tell
to keep the dangerous parts concealed.

Dreamer, nothing is lost.
The psychic stratosphere unclouds

a picture-map
vivid as driftwood’s mineral flame.

(ii) Lucid

She commands the dream, goes
gill-breathing under a transparent sea,
cuts free from stick man
and ancestor tree,

pushes the weight of her mind
through her palm,
fear through a worry stone.

Dream shows her
fly agaric visions, translucent
as water and fire.

This language exists only
in translation. The deeper she goes,
the harder it is to come ashore,

find another, written one
cloudy as milk.

(iii) Subliminal

The crow’s split tongue
speaks her language

free thoughts
to a chestnut’s
five-fingered applause

she unweaves rainbows
colours her personal palette

she paints nothing
in all its complexity
the sixth shade

all she knows
is neverwhere

half-dream memory
on a seven-span spectrum

a story written in milk
on a gauze veil.

Village II

After Chagall, I and the Village

No path leads into these haphazard scenes
where a moon-green man with your father’s face
woos a white cow with his scythe-mown posy.

meadowsweet, dog daisy, harebell, clover

Spin counter-clockwise until you are dizzied
by dreamscenes swirling illogical colours
where the village conspires to capsize its skyline.

eye-bright, buttercup, stitchwort, yarrow

You who were destined to grow anti-sunwise,
imagine the white heifer dreaming her milker,
your airborne mother reversing her fiddle-tune.

lady’s smock, feverfew, bittercress, nettle

Why trust the village or its turn-around fables,
the moonface man with his rosary necklace?
His scythe is honed for the meadow-tranced heifer.

mouse-ear, scabious, plantain, thistle

Make your own meaning, moon-eclipse daughter,
fumblethumb curved lines on your upside-down map
till your eye finds the widdershins ‘I’ of your nature.

cuckoo-pint, nightshade, hemlock, foxglove

© Breda Wall Ryan