Irish Ancestor

Hudson sunset

Irish Ancestor

Even though your name is lost to me,
you appear in my mind from nowhere
like the sum of two easy numbers.

Even though I know nothing
of your village, your prayers, the stories
of your hearth and your departure,

behind my eyes,
your struggles gather
beside the pool of dreams.

You appear with your tangerine curls
half pinned up, half fallen
onto the shoulder of worn cloth.

You tell me
that the hammock of grief I sometimes feel myself fall into
runs deeper than the wounds of this lifetime.

You say I have carried your pain, like a stone,
without knowing—we all have,
one after the other,

from one side of the River Shannon
across streams and lochs and the great
Atlantic, into the hungry mouth of the Hudson.

You want me to drop it now,
this sorrow,
because enough is enough.

The gift you meant to give
was courage,
and however pale it seems to me

you have woven it securely in my aura,
a blessing to accompany me across the wild waters,
a light from you to those who follow.

Prayer to Saint Brigid of Ireland

emerald bead shamrock

Saint Brigid of Ireland, a fifth century nun who is one of Ireland’s patron saints, is also considered a patron saint of poets. She performed many miracles in her lifetime, including converting a king on his deathbed by weaving a cross out of local reeds (St. Brigid’s cross). My prayer below refers to two other miracles as well. In her youth, St. Brigid’s beauty mysteriously vanished so as to discourage suitors, and returned once she was safely committed to God. The third miracle is the story of St. Brigid approaching the king for land for a convent. He laughed and said she could have whatever land her cloak could cover. Four of her nuns took the corners of her cloak, and running outward in the directions of the compass, stretched the cloak for acres. The astonished king conceded the land.

Prayer to St. Brigid for Creativity

Just as you led the Celtic mind
out to the meadow of transfiguring light,
lead also my hopeful imagination
out into a new meadow this day

Just as you shed physical beauty for the gifts of spirit,
quell also my accumulating nature
so that the gifts of the grassy fields
may come gently into focus

Just as you wove reeds into a tale of conversion
May I also weave available stalks into an artful message

May I be in your vein brave and creative.