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LOVE SONG TO THE IRISHWOMAN

 

1985 began a period of time when I was living near the school and still taking part in many school activities, but was also writing essays, publishing a quarterly journal of alternative education and traveling a lot.

The first of these trips I took was inspired by a reading of Merlin Stone's When God was a Woman, which precipitated the outburst below, a paean to the Great Mother in her many guises as I had met her in literature. My reading and studies also sent me off on a pilgrimage to visit some of Her sacred sites of all kinds, which became the inspiration for a book I wrote the following year which I called Rushing to Eva, based on the daily journal I had kept during the trip.

Where was it I saw you first, dear Lady?
Was it in my mother's dark and shining eyes
As she looked down at me, swaddled, newly born?
 
Or later, when she read to me that lilting poem?
Did I see you there, down in the cellar,
Dancing with the potatoes, the Irish potatoes?
 
Or was it trotting by the bogside that I saw you,
Following the cows home at sunset glow,
Their full bags swinging?
 
Or following young Tom the sweep
Who wanted so much to be clean
And didn't know how -
Following after him unseen over the fells,
Your kirtle turned up above the knees
To give bare legs and feet their freedom?
Are you Mrs. Do-as-you-would-be-done-by
Or Mrs. Be-done-by-as-you-did?
And how could you be both?
 
Or did I stand in the twilight road with Curdy
Gazing raptly at your golden moon hanging there in the night,
Lambent in the gathering dark,
Knowing what was to be yet always had been? -
The white-hot fragrance of your glowing bank of rosefire
From out of which my hands and arms would one day emerge
So coolly pure, so newly cleansed
And fitted now for what they had to do.
 
Or did I peer, tiny, safe, unfrightened,
Huddling with little Diamond,
From out the dark nest of your woven hair,
Even as you swept the night sky with your besom,
Roaring away above, uprooting trees, flattening houses,
Raising the ocean waters mountain high
To engulf mens' ships and scour the earth
Of its manmade dirtiness?
 
Your grandeur fills my being!
Your tenderness opens my heart.
The awesome beauty of your terrible wrath
Bows me to the ground:
Clothed in the dark and flowing robes of night,
The moon and stars your crown,
The sun your heart,
The earth your body,
Rain and wind your tears and your breath,
Lightning the fire of your anger -
 
You are the Mother of life and death alike,
Beauty Herself in all her forms.
And of ugliness?
Yes, even with ugliness you will treat,
Take on that form if you must,
Knowing the teratoid to be earth-spawned,
Not of yourself, yet still to be encompassed!
Still to be taken in,
Transformed by your rosefire.
 
Even as our monstrous offspring ravage the earth,
Can you yet forgive the blind and savage appetites
That spawned such as us in the days of our youth?
Turn not away but teach us still at this late hour -
And may I ever remember as I look at them joined in prayer
That my hands carry your very shape and function,
My clasp, your presence.
 
Oh, Lady, Lady!
All these years
I've been singing to you,
Yet knew you no better than Tom -
Still only catch a glimpse now and again -
These songs are for you.
Always were.
July, 1984.