Writers-in-Residence Excerpts of Work

Rings of Beara


I

Descend to the Beara Penisula
where the Angel Earth reveals her heart-
a luminous sun beneath a Green sea-
slow ebb and flow-imperceptible motion
on mists, a glow; on gravestones, silver-white
crescent moons.

Read palm leaves in this land
of blackthorn and hazel, of sea caverns
and sacred fires; taste and smell the musk,
the darkness and salt, the sea caverns and
sacred fires. The sweet sun makes of
rubble-stone shadows, rubies; on mapped,
parchment stones, a mottled glaze.

Return, but
not alone and not by the way you had come.

II

Beware of in-coming waters to the
strand of cipherless shore; touch scrills on stones
scribed by seaweed and lichen-unlikely
raised ink, impossible message, or
encode monumental Ogham script
ice scarfed on the fore hills near Adrigole.
Hope that the Ogham stone still standing near
Faunkill-the immaculate script of the
Tuatha De Danaan, conceived on an
island of the Northern Aegean, erased
by sleet, burned by Saint Patrick-
still speaks,

"Get to the Hag of Beara."
Find the full bodied An Cailleach Bhera,
The White One. Descend her approaches of
wet grass and lost footholds; offer her coins
and ashes, betrayals, a thousand broken
promises, yearnings to be yearned for.
Her gaze-an ash-bed mirror, "Not fallen,
but exile and stranger." Strike against her
breastplate-Lorica-Entanglement,
gemstones, faceted, shards, crystals refract-
"No more entangled, entangler, rather
transcendent."-Ignite-the vessel of your
ashes is sea foam and passage to the
Stone Circle Gathering of Anu, near Ardgroom.

III

Wend over hoof-sodden pastures; upland
marshes give-way to and bear you -weep, laugh,
sing-ardent or distracted, to the Ring
of Visions-stumble or dance-breathless, or
bewildered, confident, enraptured to the
Triennial Assembly of Taras-
three spirals whose arcs touch at their limits;
two rings-mandorla, almond-whose
circumferences overlap at their centers.
Purified by sea winds and salt spray, anoint
with oil of Cedar, oil of Salmon-each other;
gather from Isles of Glass and homelands
around the Black Sea, Aural, and Caspian.

IV

The Hag of Beara with Saint Catherine-
their wrath, all mercy-An Cailleach Bhera
and Caitighearn, the Great Gifted Ones, like
Anahid and Asi, beautiful-arrive on chariots
drawn by Wind, Cloud, Rain, and Sleet,
now grazing in the Valley of Horses.
Daena-both the Light that is seen and
the Light that makes seeing possible,
Wisdom, Old Knowledge, Tara of Scribes, come-
and Armaiti, their mother, daughter, and sister
with Haravati, the Mythical River,
she who possesses all Waters, she who
is "as great in bigness as all these waters"-
to the Stone Circle Gathering of Anu.

V

The Angel Earth? Of course she comes-her hands,
seeing, and hearing are all light, her mouth
and tongue also-hedges of burgundy,
fern-greens, and Red Madder are not blood;
raised seam of stone walls, perpetual cairns,
are not scars; where the Old Road cuts through rock,
she does not bleed-over marshland, on hoarfrost
and stepping stones she bares me; she entreats me
with sighs, sweet scents, and calls me by name;
behind a Standing One, hides me, sits beside
me and whispers-I hear her melodies,
her cool breath, the sound of her tones; kindly,
she mentions their names as we mingle-
Cessair, Fodhla, Tailte, Maeve, the Goddess
of Tara, and Eri-Lights of Beauty,
Lights of Majesty, intermingling-
"the inaccessible Majesty of gracious Beauty,
the gracious Beauty of sublime Majesty"-
the Mid Night Sun rising in the West,
a Black Sun of great luminosity.

VI

Heavily laden with gifts I depart-
engendered, and engendering-and hear,
"I was beautiful and you have made me
more beautiful still; I was loved and you
have made me more loved still."-
congenial, and intimate; full of intimations
and generosities, we leave.

I return,
but not alone-
and not by the way I had come.

Maryann McMurray
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

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