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A Poem for Samhain
A harvest moon sits lazily between streaks of cloud,
as machines separate chaff from grain,
creaking pines mingle with fireworks and acrid gunpowder,
until the midnight hour stalks the remaining fields and hurls curses at the muddy water’s edge.
Gone are the times when the night’s figures, simian and laden with offerings and votives
would fling bronze and polished stone between the worlds.
The moon would see her watchers rise pale faced in her image
and mutter devotions to water and sky.
A liminal breeze.
Now we see no faces nor figures, but the dull sodium glow of lamps.
A harvest moon in name only.
Lay a hand on this rotting wood and feel the warm breath,
pinholes, like a thousand dreamy eyes,
the mycelium creeping of a blind man.
Somewhere deep in there is the ancient order of a cosmos of darkness,
life without light,
life without sky.
The tubules of watery passage which finger root and stem and gather and leave in this dance,
a soiled and splintering face which hungers for dew and rain.
The pale milky white protrusions which seep out seasonally and sit silent, her gills and fronds holding sweet death and ink.
Inhale the dense musk.
The traces of sap and resin.
A slow crumbling back to the earth and each in their turn to go.
The summer visitations gone and the children of the leafy beds murmur -
‘our time to reign’.
The land regains her depth as the first frosts creep in,
steaming breath rises to reddening branches.
A corvid calls high and clear on the cold smoke,
her bloodline answers.
On those days, when the moon hangs in sight of the setting sun,
the old ones press up closer to the veil of the world,
fingertips brush bark like wind.
The dead and unspeakable, the ones with no names, forgotten.
Creased leather eye-holes, dry and deep as much as the water holds light,
these ancestral wights sit in the hollows of tree trunks,
weighing lists of names and places,
scratching out road-signs and burning the new maps.
Theirs is a path from footsteps fallen long before the saplings.
Our conceit, they say, is to believe the world intelligible, legible,
renderable to us as clear as a robin’s call.
We would do better - they murmur to us - to trace signs of mosses and of snowflakes and hoar frosts
and hear only the goshawk in his silence.
For these maps follow chalk under the earth and lead to where the mist divides the land.
A lone witness on the shore and she smells of the sea and of the old salt air.
A better partner for cupping in your cold hands during the witching hours.
I pray you put a feather or a wrapped corn bundle out on an oak branch,
for to say we know better
is to reap a rotten harvest.