Tara, poems by Colette Nic Aodha
Colette is an award winning poet who resides in Galway in the West of Ireland. She writes in both Irish and English. She has fourteen publications which include a volume of short stories, Ádh Mór, as well as an academic study of the blind poet Anthony Raftery, an 18th century bard whose songs and poems are still recited and sung today. She has one volume of English poetry, Sundial, which was published by Arlen House Press, She also has two dual language collections of poetry by the same publisher; Between Curses: Bainne Géar , and In Castlewood: An Ghaoth Aduaidh. Her work is on the syllabus in Primary, Secondary and Third Level colleges. Colette’s latest collection (bilingual) is titled Bainne Géár: Sour Milk,which is available in hardback and softback, published by Arlen House, 2016. : Colette is pursuing postgraduate studies in the English department of NUI Galway; she also has a master’s degree in modern Irish. ‘Magyar Dancer’ is her forthcoming collection of English poetry.
Down at the harbour I enter a museum
and discover a traditional piece;
The Tara Idol, a symbol of woman
depicted in clay, I think of her Celtic
counterpart; Sile na Gig. Bare breasted
women jog on the sand, red flag
aloft, huge waves crash in, a Spanish
couple next bench argue;
I seek refuge in the cafe Royal,
the universe turning; an experiment
in pen and ink. I give myself
too easily; in the tropical heat I melt.
An old poet had warned against
wearing heart on sleeve, I didn’t listen,
now I spend my days trying to stay away from sand;
sitting among dark skinned peddlers
of souls and women’s desire,
I find they agree with all I say
and are impressed with watercolours.
I dream of a dark skinned waiter
who tattoos my words on his name,
I can do everything except resist,
as I follow meandering streets
I feel that I have been breached;
Sea, rocks, cliffs, anchor and iron cross.
The Kitchen Weeps
Partial recall that fades;
this recycled pine dresser
standing against pastel colours,
touch of beeswax to be certain,
skilled craftsman trace delicate leaves
with honed tools in soft hands.
Decorative plates, apart on shelves
vacant space had to be the correct measure;
pheasants in flight, not cuttlefish at swim;
my only heirloom, sepia tones on porcelain.
Annually I place this treasured turkey plate
on painted table for six, ignore hot juice that streams
from a slight fissure in the dish,
mop essence that drips, drips, drips on seats,
no yielding rag only cautionary words,
busy fingers, pleasing aromas that penetrate.
Belfast sink as centre piece
fully immersed, we roll up sleeves
and prepare to eat…..
Everything on the table
Four palm trees aloft, four wise whins,
the King is dead, long live our Saviour.
Easter Saturday abroad, company of my choosing;
a host of pastels and paint, eraser and paper.
Fauna aplenty; salamander or desert lizard.
Silent, unclean streets shaded with lilac.
Seafront chairs and striped umbrellas melt.
Last night after the passion of the Christ reenacted
I returned to my hotel, tried to recapture
women in black clothes, elaborate headdress,
recalled a Spanish poet whom I met over John
Of the Cross; he taught me the names of virgins,
when to implore. Later that night I fell three times,
woke to a breakfast of vinegar, water
and the knowledge of how deep to bury
the last remaining ember.
Rough spills the waters – crashing
carousing on silver –
Lashing and longing again
for pale winter-
Piercing, wavering moon.
Slayer of Serpents
Trees, those stern pallbearers, silence wolves
that cower in scrub, leaves, in wide eyed grief,
light as speckled crescents overhead –
monochrome subdues mourning:
Don your hat with black feathers and soft kid gloves-
beware of those headless hunters, returned,
throw arms skywards in lament, whip stones into heartfelt sorrow:
they keen for a lost princess and make loud complaint,
wind strikes up a refrain for this formidable girl in someone else’s hair shirt;
cold pet in petrified cuddle, she bears cloth
for internment: grandmother’s hand crafted lace
which she kept in a velvet lined tin enameled with ears of corn,
her pain seems common place; no golden furls or silken casket
for Cleopatra’s lost goddess only the loosening of an arm
and tears like rain which quickens her pace.
Now she crosses where the river was, barefoot;
sorrow creating a natural ford: forms emerge into opposite light;
no sundial of trees and horizons only this burden, unaltered.
Perhaps she will walk to Ephesus
and become golden….. enshrine her deserved queen:
loyal servant of poise and grace. Is it Mafdet or Bast you carry?
Go to the temple of Artemis where you both will find peace.
© Colette Nic Aodha