Posts Tagged ‘folklore’



The woman who would dance on treetops;
who would walk with trees,
Tell me:
What is the shape and form and extent of the tree?
What is its roots, and what its height?
How can its girth be encompassed?
How can its wisdom be translated?
There is, you see, no merit in finding answers.
Answers are not how this, or any other, universe functions.
Multiply the questions.
Each a branch, each a root.
Questions. Spreading, holding,
Illuminating, transducing.
The word for tree
Is the word for truth,
And it is not one thing
Nor many.
To wrap it around an ankle,
A web around a bone, around skin
Around a scent, around a movement.
To wear a tree. To be worn,
Within and without.
Smiled upon, an ocean waved and rippled.
To be cast out upon a twig,
Without a name,
In a bag with no name,
In a basket with no name.
To forget one name, a touch of light,
A trembling on starlight,
A passage between attractors.
Begin and continue:
That is a tree.
An umbrella to worlds
A clamour of tongues
Green and cymbal-sharp,
Their little edges are questions.
To find an image
One must not seek an image,
(we need no other backwards mirror things),
To scribble and allow the dust
To coagulate, drip and remember
That all the waters of the world
Are one river.
The slightest, remotest puddle,
Slowly drawn upward, freedom
Within gravity to become cloud,
The tiniest thing, the thing most free,
Falling with accumulation,
Flowing with urgent weight,
Becoming all else by need.
A fountain of water held upright
By the will of the sun.
An urge to delve darkness,
To send out messengers,
To converse with all the syllables of scent.
This becomes another tree, so you see.
A one, a self, a many, a one.
Passionately, she wishes to become inscribed,
Pictured, illuminated, to become aligned,
Limned, re-limbed.
Chosen, loosed, re-booted,
A future unveiled, woven around.
The past taken up, enthroned
And unfolded. Truth made real
In arching bough, the only dance there is,
A bounce up and out from ground
And a certain, graceful, impossibly slow


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gold turquoise blue2


(St. Brendan’s Chapel, Barra)

Nowhere nearer
The Isles of the Blest,
The dead gather together,
Warrior and child.

Coaxed by a hand of hills
The land launched
Into silver sunset ocean.

Go on, you can do it.
It will be alright,
Wonders await you…
The voyage into mystery
Stepping stones to heaven.

Eternal islands,
Eternal seas.

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night rain.
slow breath, flared nostrils
of meditating samurai.

drunken skeletons,
clattering arm in arm,
splashing puddles.
rain passes right through them.

five-tailed white fox
rolls over, kisses lover
and creeps out to hunt chickens.

moon lies back,
thinking of ocean beds.

calligrapher practicing
with invisible inks,
worlds destroyed and created.

splashes down mountain path,
breathing rock and root.

five miles high,
dragons and phoenixes
look down on city lights.

crows shift and grumble
nests full of the stolen dreams
of small children.

magatama blinks
turning into a jade bird,
once then twice.

slightly fuddled,
thinking up names
for new brands of sake:
night rain,
samurai nostrils,
calligrapher’s surprise,
moonlit window,
animal seance,
dancing foxes,
shadow river.

poet weaves clouds,
farts, scratches,
remembers, forgets.

cloud scroll, cherry dark trunks.
hooves of the kirin
echoing in the valleys.

there is no magic outside
the mind.
there is no mind outside
of magic.



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Loch Dunvegan2


Taladh na mna Sidhe, (The Fairy’s Lullaby)

She came as a whisper
From her own fair folk,
Over the bridge between worlds.
Called by the cries
Of the one forgotten, forlorn.

A shining face above the cradle,
Cold long feet upon the floor.
Golden as a graceful willow
In winter time on Camalaig Bay,
Silver as moonlight
On the flanks of Beinn na Creiche.

To hold and cradle
One small dreamer
Disturbed by the silence of a room,
The merriment of the hall.
The world found cold, empty
Wrapped once more in love
And soft singing:

Look, my child,
Fine limbed, small brightness,
Lithe and graced with all.
My dream eye
Sees the same one
A master amongst stallions,
Strong grasp, clear calling,
A glory of lordship
In the morning, laughing.

On the mountain,
Amongst the grass-warm breath
Of the peaceful kine,
A gatherer of silk milk,
Dressed in forest, dressed in snow,
Dressed in pasture sweet,
You my child, a habitation
Of delight.

The distant chink of harness
Shining in the setting sun
Leading your people
The chattering of women-folk,
The earnest sower.

You, who shall remember
The tenderness herein:
The warm womb,
The gift of my breast,
The throne of my knee.
Satisfied, content
Nurtured by the honey
Of dear love.

My lithe one,
My red and white one,
My strong yew sapling,
Dark green and handsome.
My laughing one,
Nodding golden iris by the shore,
Bright alder and birch leaning graceful.
A whisper, a chatterer, a sparkling of joy.
Last year, you were a seed in warm darkness.
Now you will soon be leaping high,
Running with song about the house,
About the fields, under cloud and sunlight.

May you not be harmed,
May you not be wounded,
May you not be slain,
But grow old and grey,
Crag-browed and wise,
A sharp nose for deceit,
A sharp eye for openness.

Child of warrior from the cold North,
Child of shadows, melting, lilting.
An in and an out you have,
A strong turning hope for peace.
A warrior’s hand you have for the land
Of the father of your father,
The mother of your mother.

The babe asleep,
She turned and left.
Tune turning in the air,
A waivering of rushlight,
A scent of honey milk.
A mother melting back
Into the weave of dream.
Footsteps soft fading,
Soft fading.

wooded falls1

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Skye road


The fairy bridge

See the cars speeding fast and low
Along the thin, black tarmac ribbons,
Crisp laid over the rolling moors.
Hardly noticing,
Oblivious to the blur of heaped stones,
The dips and corners of bypassed histories.

Speeding around the proud, sleek corners
Leaping the old valleys left silent, shaded.
Easy, then, to miss the Fairy Bridge
Where MacLeod of Dunvegan
Found and lost his fairy wife
In a place between here and there,
Neither rock nor water, earth nor air,
A hunched road between hunched hills.

Left in sorrow,
(Impossible to span such a distinction of worlds,
Falling asleep for centuries
Or cursed with too much guiltless joy,
The dance never ending),
He returns to his empty home with a last gift:
A flag, furled against desperate times,
A promise of three victories out from despair.
Doomed to crumble, disappear in tatters,
Worm-eaten, forgotten, misplaced, tear-stained.

A thin withering, a frayed thread,
The clear glory imagined now dust,
A past that bartered its continuance
Without suspecting anything except valediction,
The clear glorious road ahead smudged with sunset storm,
A dark path abandoned by light.

The Fairy bridge,
Between time and space, here and there,
A feather touch of fame and fortune,
A moth touch of death, a kiss, a whisper,
A foot placed right, a foot placed wrong,
A slip, a sliver, a glint of gold, a refrain coded,
A yearning, a whole nation beguiled,
Mazed, lost, cast away,
(The blue distant shimmer, the smooth green hillside of freedom).

He doubts now:
Did he dream it? The long years of love and laughter,
The line and weight of beauty,
The grace of hand and fall of cloth?
And what was the cause?
What was done, what left undone,
What path unnoticed, what riddle unsolved?
What required answer not given
At the right time, the right place?

The song is: if only.
The grief of not knowing, or of knowing too late.
Gold cast away into mud, the firm, fast knot slipped.
To give and take is sacrifice,
To give the most must lose the most.

Swept away,
They have all been swept away,
By time, by foolishness, by a repayment of debts.
The land parceled, emptied,
Lorded over, an amusement for weekends,
A respite from care,
A cleared killing ground,
A desolation of aristocracies.


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Kyleakin evening


 Weavers of the Sidhe

Two came at twilight

From the rath,

Cold with curiosity,

Small as children

But with strange eyes

And smiles too old,

Far too old.

To see who it was

Carried the silence

By the shore

That was not the grey heron’s;

To judge the cry of one

Neither curlew nor oystercatcher;

To weigh the harsh throat

Not of the hooded crow

Nor of the raven.

To find the mote

In sunlit attic,

It’s dance to forgotten harp

Dusted earth, dreamt melody –

Dream nerves tied to sing of rock,

To follow the dancing road.

When they speak

Small blue flames flicker

Upon their tongues.

Their eyes –

Corridors of starlight

From distant galaxies.

Their thin fingers

Cat’s cradling

the centuries.

They are the same

Our ancestors knew:


Dissolving in midday light,

Returning at twilight

With shadows dancing.

They belong to place,

But not to time.

They are the rolling,

Rising, blue distance-

Yearned for,




The Secret Commonwealth

Cast out,

Cast down

From Heaven’s brilliance.

Not falling for the passion of rage,

Nor swayed by the unforgiving violence

Of righteousness,

(The simple, clear lie

of polarities, justice, truth).

Condemned by the Most High

For failing to take sides.

Falling down,


Into twilight.

Neither here nor there,

Backwards or forwards.

It is why they flock to song,

Delight in the poet,

To what moves by its stillness,

What reverberates with passion,

Profound ephemera,

Guileless illusion,

Flash of gold,

Uncertain Reality.

Shot-silk seasons

Rich with the Opposite.

Reflection on reflection,

Echoed echoes.

Not dead, nor living

They are the rolling, rising blue distance,

The accumulation of dream,

Repository of yearning,

Perfume of nostalgia.

The processions, the slow


Terrestrial constellations

Caught sight of peripherally,





Bane of priests,

Defiers of logic.

Snake language – fast

And sparkling.

A danger to mortal dreamers

Who might fade

Into the world,

Feather roots merging,

Knowing and edges blurred

Into the song of presence.

Perhaps returning,

(if at all)

With a fragment of lament,

An air,

A pavan,

A secret wrenched from time,

Lost within time again,

A wonder,

A treasure,

A mystery unholy,

Disengaging from certainty.

Duirnish sky1

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