Cailleach

The Old One stirs
Stretching from her sleep,
Her blanket warm
And autumn hued,
Yawning she rises
Blinking her bright eyes
Sleep fading,

Washing her vivid blanket
She scrubs and rinses
In the gurgling spring,
Whitely shimmering
She spreds her blanket in the sun,
Her eyes twinkle
As she smiles,

Her purpose calls
Her journey to begin,
Removing old and worn,
Giving needed respite
To the land,
Preparing earth
For fecund spring,

To plant afresh
You first must reap,
To awaken healed
You first must sleep,
The new replaces old,
Her eyes warm
Ageless and wise.

© 2019 Maggie Grimes

Cailleach is the winter goddess, the crone, the old hag. She is a power of destruction and renewal. It is difficult sometimes to find hope in the middle of an icy storm, but spring comes only after winter. It is worth the wait. MJG.

Moon Of Cerridwen

She glows
Warm face shining
Awakening the night,

Wind stirs
Murmuring through the leaves
Caressing the silence,

Geese call
Voices descant
Raising evensong,

Night deepens
Burnished moonlight silvered
Banishing shadows,

Stars ignite
To dreamers guide
Entreating Cerridwen.

©2019 Maggie Grimes

In Irish mythology, Cerridwen is the keeper of the Cauldron of Knowledge, giver of wisdom and inspiration, a thing important to poets. Although the Celts didn’t worship the moon, it is a symbol associated with Cerridwen. The harvest moon of September 13, 2019 brought her to mind. MJG

Siren

I walked quiet fields alone,
Heard the earth growing
Felt her calling,
Calling me to sow with love
And reap her joy,
The air was heated with her breath,

But I am born of the sea
The peace of earth is not mine,
The sea’s unnamed longing sends me seeking
A quest for islands dreaming in the sun,
The children of the sea my only brothers,
My only home, the sea,

Passion, storm, a sea bird calling.

©2019 Maggie Grimes

Hope of Eriu

A whispering melody
Calms the dark fears
Singing softly
Sleep wrapped memories,
Dreams of home
Distant and dim
Warm your nights,

My sons and daughters
I lost you
To cruelty
Famine, fear, and greed,
My lost children
Wandering
Never forgotten,

Bone of my bone
Breath of my breath
Strength of my strength
Undaunted and unbroken,
My heart calls to you
Hope sustaining
Until our hearts mend.

©2019 Maggie Grimes

Eriu was a goddess of ancient Ireland, whose name gave rise to Ireland’s name of Eire. MJG

Manannan’s Children

Tonight I am free
Taking flight on night dark wings
No shackles of thought holding me,
The winds call
Awakening the slumbering magic
Stirring the old wildness,
I hear the murmurings
As strange forces whisper
And the sea summons the storm,

Come my children
Come be free with me,
I am drunk with power
Filled with ancient secrets
And dreamed memories,
Sea magic fierce and wild
Magic of forgotten lands
Guided by unknown stars
Loved by one sea,

Wild magic
Living magic
Held by the sea.

©2019 Maggie Grimes

I hear Manannan’s voice calling in calm seas or in storm. It draws me to the ocean in wonder, to study, to play, to learn. It is irresistible. MJG

Children of Eriu

We are your children
Lost
Longing for home
Crying in the night,
Forced to leave
From want
Or danger
Or daring
We do not belong,

We have built places
Fought
Raised families
Labored
Sacrificed
For strangers,
Still we look back
Missing ourselves,

We wait in darkness
Hoping
Listening for the voices
Of our mothers’ singing
Or the stories
Of proud heroes of our fathers,
We yearn for home
Knowing we must choose
And in choosing lose.

©2019 Maggie Grimes

I was born and raised in the USA. I am a product of predominantly Irish immigrants, with a bit of Scot and Welsh added to the mixture. I’ve noticed in others of similar ancestry that our ancestral home seems to call us. We share a sense of loss, of homesickness for a place we have not lived. Familiar and missed. MJG

An Open Gate

I left the back gate open
Into the woods
Unknowingly inviting,
Who entered
The shaggy yard
Into moonlight
Out of the shadows?
First creeping shyly
Hesitant, unsure of danger,
Then bounding unfettered
Breathing open air
Enjoying the space and flowers,
There are spider webs
Jeweled by the morning dew,
Did the Sidhe Folk join you
Losing their hoods and cloaks
In the wild dance?
Perhaps I’ll take
Some inviting portal,
One breathless pause
Then entering
To find an unexpected meadow,
I’ll chance the open gate
Life awaits.

©2019 Maggie Grimes

Manannan’s Daughter-Cantos five-Medb

She rides the gray stallion toward her village, stopping only to retrieve her weapons. It was good to run free, feel the wind, the sun on her skin. Time now to return. Her duties as chieftain’s daughter were many.

Sudden sound stopped her. Sliding from her mount, she was stealthy death moving through the undergrowth. Some slight sound warned her as she spun around, her sword struck from her grasp as she moved it to ready. She was slammed to her back before she could move to use her shield.

“The lady should return her toys to her father before her brothers miss them or she hurts herself.” He leaned down to help her up.

She easily evaded his hand, kicking his feet from beneath him, her sword kissing his throat. “I have no brothers. I’ll keep my toys.”

He rolled away from her sword, grasping his own, “Careful my lady, you could get hurt.”

“Better yet, I could hurt you.” She spoke through a wolf’s deadly smile.

They circle cautiously, watching each move of the other, studying, evaluating, planning. Shields ready, sword tips lazily circling, they watch for an opening.

She springs, slashing, then out again. The clang of her sword against his shield shatters the stillness. She hisses in disappointment at his escape. He swings his sword while she moves to balance again. She parries and spins, deflecting his strike.

Their dance of swords continues stroke for stroke, the advantage of one quickly taken by the other. Spinning, weaving, leaping, rolling, their bodies grow slick with sweat, lungs burning for air.

Approaching hoofbeats break his focus for just a moment, but enough. Her shield sweeps his legs from beneath him. Her sword dives for his throat.

“Stop.” Her father’s voice is imperious. “It is generally thought poor hospitality to kill the bridegroom before you bed him.”

“Lucky for you that my father arrived when he did.” Her sword still at his throat.

“I would not be lonely here.” He looks from her eyes, lower. His sword is at her stomach. She hadn’t noticed its light kiss. A scarlet thread seamed her belly.

She reached to help him rise, “My name is Medb.”

©2019 Maggie Grimes

Manannan’s Daughter –Cantos six

I remember, or perhaps I dreamed, another time. It was a long ago time. Much is hidden in the mists of the past but moments stand out as in sunlight. The first memory is actually the last memory of she I might have been.

There was a battle and I fought crippled, being alone. My shieldmate was gone, he who guarded my back as I his. Being alone and knowing my fate, I had chosen the site of this battle carefully. The oak tree was ancient when I was born. It watched me grow, speaking to me in the whispering wind. I did not feel alone with it behind me.

They came laughing, seeing easy prey. My sword drank hearts’ blood twice and my shield crushed an unwary throat before they learned caution. They were angry at my impudence, shouting at me, rattling their swords. I laughed at them and they grew angrier. They charged. I danced amid the gnarled roots, dealing death. Time and time they came and could not take me. The roots grew slippery with their blood and mine. The ground beneath was darkened with it.

Time stopped as we fought. I know not how long we battled so. It was sunset when I next held thought, the sun’s gleaming, gold beneath the storm dark clouds. My arms burned and my legs trembled. My lungs labored with each breath. Everything was still. I looked at my enemy and ‘though the bodies were many, more still stood watching me. One stepped ahead of the others. Bigger, stronger, he was their champion held in reserve. The others fell back. He lifted his sword in salute and nodded his head. His eyes were kind.

I straightened and looked around me. The wind was cool against my face, sweet in my laboring lungs. The colors of the trees and fields glowed in sunset splendour. The air sparkled with amazing clarity.

I turned to the champion waiting still, patient. My fatigue, pain were gone, replaced by fierce defience. I raised my sword, delighting in the sunlight that jeweled its bloody length. I looked at the champion and my vision grew red. I screamed as the bann sidhe screams. I know no more. Perhaps my heart burst or his sword found it. I know not, for only darkness echoes.

These are my first memories, dreams of the distant time. There are others that came later as I remembered the sword. It was his sword. The coming of my shieldmate to be and the gifting of his sword are other dreams, memories to be recalled some other time. Some I might share but others, others well, we shall see.

©2019 Maggie Grimes

“Manannan’s Daughter” begins in prehistoric Ireland with the selkie’s tale and continues now with ancient tales of Irish heroes. MJG

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