That Birthstone Glade

on the recurring dream of county cheatharlach; a portrait poem
28/02/2022. total words: 233

The cotton-soaked grass smokes with the sweet dance's return
of summer, and my feet brush pebbles of a road that stopped existing centuries ago. Maybe
it never did. Maybe all this is a dream I’ll forget upon waking. Despite that,
I can still close my eyes and remember every foothold.

Rain-yet-coming hums on the eastbound wind, a petrichor before
the skies start to weep and extinguish the flames.
The darach tree still spreads its summer-leaves wide, the hawthorne
and the eidhneán waltz across the water. When I kick off my shoes one heel catches a stone, skips
it across the creek into the stream, bubbling as it fizzles out.

It sinks. I watch it sink. I watch from
the high ground as it sinks. I will return to the páirceanna soon, travel
through the grass back to asphalt that doesn't hiss with dew. The moon shines above
the wide, ephemeral canopy of earrach. It warms me, briefly, under the eye of Mathgamhain Mór,
low on the horizon. This is a memory. This is a journey upon whose footsteps I have yet to dance.

I remember no other place, say its name twice, two syllables,
three. Two pebbles make a tower, a few more a moss-covered,
dew-soaked castle wall. Even I know better than to climb to higher ground.
With trumpet-sounds and marching men, fallen like stars low are
the pebbles of half-remembered abhaile.

written by Albafica


darach, oak; eidhneán, ivy; páirceanna, fields; earrach, springtime; Mathgamhain Mór, Ursa Major; abhaile, home.

Caught in a third-floor elective classroom. That Birthstone Glade is a portrait poem inspired largely by a recurring dream we keep having. A large part of our blood family is from County Carlow, and we are in contact with none of them, never have been, and likely will never have that opportunity. It’s a slow journey to reconnect with our heritage wholly alone with no one but our system, piecing together words and history and footpaths we're utterly convinced we will know by heart the moment we step off the plane. The two main references are to Luteia's birthstone, emerald; and to the wartime folk song, Follow Me Down to Carlow.