These words will never carve
your image out of bog oak
but that is what they want to do
to dig down into the moist wetness
to touch the layers of centuries
that have made you
woman, goddess, saint
to see your shape emerge intact
from the dark earth.
My instruments are crude for such a work
the bog resistant to intruders
as an ancient tribal memory
in its dark and secret places.
But I must search out these roots
this memory as vital as breath.
I must drag this ancient oak
from the centre of the bog.
I will wait as I must
until I can see
the shape of what you were
and what you are.
The fine coat of resin will preserve your beautiful shape intact
and I will call on you great woman
to grace me with a golden branch and tinkling bells.
And I will polish you then with images of
sun and moon, cows, sheep, serpents, vultures,
bags, bells, baths and sacred fires
so that you become a fiery arrow
and breathe life into the mouth of dead winter
O beautiful vessel still intact
where we have unearthed you,
remind us of your many manifestations
and let us smile again in memory
of when doddering Mel pronounced you bishop
or your cloak spread over the green fields of Kildare.
You who turned back the streams of war
whose name invoked stilled monsters in the seas
whose cross remains a resplendent, sparkling flame
come again from the dark bog and forge us anew.
~ Anne F. O’Reilly
Listen to me read the poem here:
from CD Breathsong