Orla Fay is a member of Boyne Writers’ Group. She has been published most recently in Boyne Berries 13, Abridged Primal and in The Artistic Atlas of Galway. Her poetry chapbook ‘Drawn to the Light’ was published in June 2012. She keeps a blog at http://www.orlafay.blogspot.com/
O pro equo alato!*
From the deserts of Arabia
my forefathers raced
with the Bedouin
past pyramid and dune
and when the prophet
called me back from the oasis
I answered, faithful Siglawi,
one of the Al Khamsa,*
brown as an ant’s belly,
capable of wingless flight,
a creature of the wind,
the drinker of the wind.
As the hands of the clock sped
my name lived on dispersed,
great brethren and sistren
flashed in the dark.
I was called to serve
in times of labour and war.
Before the curtain’s fall
the battle was lost.
I was called to serve
in peace and grace,
in times of hawthorn
and holly, carnation adorned.
My worn hooves shod anew
from the forge of the past
platinum from the anvil,
trail-blaze a route
marked by thunder,
hocks, lightning bolts.
Looking to the stars
my constellation is mapped;
Pegasus striking his foot
at Hippocrene’s birth.
*O for a winged horse!
*the five horses chosen by Mohammed for their loyalty
By The Ramparts waiting.
I steal a glimpse of this prince
to be blessed in an early hour
Where the water has risen,
joined by melted snow and ice
and surface flashing stands this one,
rainbow all surveying.
Like Christ on Galilee our souls
he is waiting for lest
we fall off the edge of the world
to penury from days Halcyon.
Hungrily the Boyne goes to the Blackwater,
then on to the sea in stiff January’s motion racing.
From amber to green the lights usher the bus.
We are pointed south east to Dublin
where addicts sit barefoot and perished
begging on Henry Street,
where love is sold in the bottom of a glass
and where desolate passion is spent
having never been owned.
Remembering all he is the shape of the river
through times of feast and famine,
not yet extinct the pharaoh’s gold
and cerulean blue garb.
Wanderlust and self-preservation at twenty one
had taken you from Adelaide to Europe –
to garbage strewn sands in Sicily ,
hashish fumed cafes in Amsterdam
and beer stained restaurants in Glasgow .
Arriving here you witnessed our tiger,
flailing and flawed. With pragmatic
Aussie thinking and just a dash of colour
you did not quite understand
how we had ended up “up the shitter.”
It was far to go across the world,
from surf and heat, city lights
and Southern Cross to rural Ireland ,
to find days of endless rain
and bitterly cold winter snaps,
to find love and friendship,
community and home.
In the month of the crab
on the beach in Olhos D’Agua
he raises claw and scuttles
towards the slack.
Go back to the moon
I urge him silently, embrace salt,
heal in Atlantic blue or some lagoon
caught between the rocks.
To the south Africa is ominous.
Though we cannot see her dark coastline
equatorial heat reaches across
the Sahara coaxing the orange
from its evergreen as a little sun.
Everywhere there are worlds
that we are not part of. In a key ring
purchased I keep a baby scorpion.
In the month of the aspiring moon
hopes are fulfilled and dashed
like wishes carried out to sea
by the unmerciful and austere tide.
At night the fishermen come ashore,
their boats lie magnificently on dunes,
marooned as whales, where they weigh
and barter netted fish with locals and tourists.
I try to capture the crescent in the sky
by digital camera, the effect created
luminous on the water and brightening
darkness, the romantic purple haze.
There is clearly marked a thin pathway
to another time but the trail fades
and shells are left and stars are left,
glistening, glittering, mirroring each other.
The ghosts of children wait here by the rocks
in the famine hungry landscape,
and the beach is named for the children.
The sand seems too yellow, jaundiced.
Oh I don’t know much
only sense the forlorn wilderness.
I supposed it must be ocean effects
as the tree are windswept and the land barren.
And I could have seen this place in dream,
no lie that it’s“like being on the moon”,
as she says tiredly to me, driving.
I am not of the West.
It is a place to sleep
at the end of the world, in peace,
where a God must smile on the mountain
and ships come home or get lost on horizon.