Tag Archives: origins

The Unexpected Origins of Caoilte Mac Ronan _ Song of Sun and Sea

The little boy, only eight summers old, burst through the doorway of the house at his mother’s call, but only after she had hollered his name at least five times. His thick dark red hair was wind-blown and tousled, and he was very much out of breath. Once again his mother was hollering, now from much nearer by, to get back outside with those shoes before she got to him first.

“What have you made of the morning, mo leanbh?” she asked, attempting to continue to scold. Attempting, that is, because just at the corners of her eyes danced a hint of a smile even while her lips turned into a frown. The boy had never been able to learn the art of a seer, but he knew the secrets hidden in a person’s face better than anyone. It always surprised his mother, but he did not know why. All you had to do was open your eyes and look. No one bothered to look. But he had, and it was there he met a person’s soul.

He had seen the smile and knew his mother’s anger would only be for show. “I was out running, ma. I went to the edge of the woods,” and here he pressed on hastily, lest his mother interject with the familiar warnings about the woods, “I did not see the shadows of the tallest trees, the sun being so bright just after dawning, so I just kept running. I made it to the fork in the river. When I got back it was still morning, so I ran it all again.” he finished proudly.

His mother only shook her head. “Ten miles, go sábhála Dithe sinn! Isteach leat, in with you and wash your hands and feet. I have hot tea for you when you’re done,” she thought for a while as the boy left his shoes outside and came in to scrub the dirt and sweat off himself. “I fear we won’t have you to ourselves much longer,” his mother continued.

“Will I get to join the older boys and learn how to fight, then?” the boy asked eagerly. “I already run faster than any of them.”

His mother sighed. “One should never run too quickly out of childhood. You would put an end to your growing before it has begun. No, you will wait until the next year like all the rest. Three times three is the year of power, when potential comes into it’s own.”

The boy listened intently. He had never heard his mother say so much at once, with such earnestness, conveying so much meaning. “What truth in the direction of your words do you wish to share, ma?” he asked quietly, sensing his mother meant to say more than repeat the druids’ law of three. He took a long sip of tea and patiently sat waiting for his mother to sift through her thoughts for whatever story wished to be told. For when she got that pensive look on her, a story was in formation. The boy loved the outdoors, loved to run, loved to play games with the other boys, especially the older ones. But if truth be told, he cherished his mother’s stories most .

“I am glad you are sitting down, son,” she said finally. “It is time you learned your origins.” A chill ran through the boy’s body, and he made sure he was sitting tall and making eye contact. This would not be like his mother’s other stories. This would be different, lasting, changing.

“Do you know the meaning of your father’s name,” she asked for effect, for the boy would know. “He is called Ronan, little seal, and here is the why of it. You see, he is a child of land and water. His mother was a selkie.”

The child gasped audibly. He had not been expecting this, but felt he should have. He had never known or met his grandmother. But he had heard his share of stories of the wild and strange seal folk who danced out on the rocks at midnight, their eerie song floating out over the waves like a soundscape’s shadow. Were their song something seen and not heard, it would have glowed iridescent and luminous in the darkness. “Tell me of her people and how she came here.” the boy encouraged, softly.

Across from him, his mother sat still and silent, as if the story wrapped itself so thickly around her that speech would be difficult. Finally she brushed her long wavy hair out of her clear blue eyes, eyes the boy thought now were so unlike his hazel eyes which mirrored tones of the water or land depending on which he was near. Taking a breath slowly, his mother began:

“Once, fada ó sin, long long ago, lived a small and young selkie girl by the name of Bean Álainn, Beautiful Woman.”


The Bridge People

Once we rode the waves of time forgotten
The bridge of light before us whining in the wind
Trodden by our silent feet and gazing straight ahead

Over colors glittering above our once sweet sky
The bridge from world to world spanned the abyss
Between what soon will live and what once died

We cross, ourselves and whatever we can hold
Against the howling relentless riff and without a sound
We make our way to the unknown
No looking back, no looking down

And each who crosses continues on
One long and lingering lonely song
The melody of you and I
All living things, what life is ours

Bursts forth in polyphony
The voices of the earth and stars
And to this day the song still rings
Throughout this space, each human being

Where do we learn to sing this song
How do you know which world you’re in
Find a truth where you belong
Then, child, your worldmaking can begin


Could you take me home, back where the light shines, not from your places but from your eyes, in your steps but without a flame? I fall off the bridge with no ending. Unfrightened, I open my mouth to breathe underwater. Someone says, “I am you.”

Where are the brothers and sisters we lost? Where is the completion for the incomplete, the whole for the broken, the new for the old, the awakening for the unaware?

Where is the color for the shadow, the roots for the seed, the space for the stars, the family for the love, the heart for the beaten, the part for the departed, the world before our world, where are those who put us here?

Sometimes I just wish I could see you again. Life bends with our choices, roads wind. Sometimes we cannot see ahead. Mountains are sometimes avalanched into our living rooms.

I cling to our memories but don’t know if they’ll fade. I plead with the wind to keep us together, but it throws our friends to four directions. Scattered like rain, I cannot even hear your whispers. \

Tell She who has so many faces– I’ve sought impressions in her eyes, that I struggle to know every inch of her silences. Her words are my life pattern, in woven relief. She disperses like clouds, and I run to follow her at breathtaking speeds that leave me reeling.

I will join the seekers and slide in the mud until I learn how to survive. I rise and fall like nations. I turn ages as the earth turns seasons. I dance for rain. I dance for the song. I age seamlessly. Earth pulses to a rhythm I cannot quite hear.

All around me people make their verdicts. They tell me who I am and should be. But the caged bird sings, remembering the time signature of clouds, and I recall the beginning.

I fly through the vast universe on a cream-tan horse whose feet tap-dance worlds like stepping stones. I can keep warm by the fire in my bones. I can sing the song of life and death. I know every passionate mother, every determined daughter, every tree, every rainbow, every finch and squirrel, every hardworking man, every grieving boy. I know myself. I am a blanket of stars.

Go ahead, reach across the curtains of loneliness to touch another world. Bring back a lost child. You are no more lost in the mist than I am. Who are you to think you cannot know me like you know yourself, like I’ve known all I’ve ever been? Where have you come from? We are pulleyed to each other by a song. Your ancestors are immortal. They walk among the living. This we have always known.

On Origins

ImageImageI skip stones, sleeping in gaps between landings,
Losing her to the cold, quoting her in the sea.
Our long afternoon drones and buzzes with bees–

Be or not be, be here or there,
Believe, be loved, belong, become–
But I am none of these things.

Sheltered under her precipice,
I fear ground might slip from under me.
Tar tarnishes her smock, she creeps

Out of cracks in sidewalks, checking up on us,
Noting how far from her we move away.
She forms stones that soften into sand,
Measuring time with each expanse of her mouth,

An eon when she yawns.  How can it be so?
I walked by the piers, singing the grief of trees–
I am none of these things.

I saw myself in shards of her looking glass,
Scaled her knees, curled in her lap,  still a child.
She says hush, hush, the roar of her tears cascading

Waterfalls crashing in her eyes, hollows of cliffs– comfort me.
We are broken in places where wounds recede
Back from rims of caves, her eyebrows.  We stumble
On the peaks of eggshells and crack

Under the weight of wounds that do not heal.
She erupts in the north, for it takes time to hatch,
Longer than we give it time.
And so we wither like a thousand winters,

Our names waving in the air like flags–
Human beings, we denote ourselves everywhere
To conquer who we are.

On the ground where I am weeping,
She wipes my eyes when I  turn away, and tells me
About the day I was born.  My eyes open

And the green clears, and no longer numb, I feel her
Pain.  One door locks when another opens.
I choose like that butterfly chose that flower,

And she is out there, an acorn away.
I gather her eyelashes in my arms like baby’s breath,
I say, someday we will remember the songs we sang

As fireflies, there is only so much light to shine,
But I live like a flame, waxing and waning,
Shifting in and out of the particularities of things.

And how does change come?
Through turning here– or there?
In a shell, the propper names?

But, I am none of these things.
And so she says.  I hear her whisper
A distant melody, an echoing that lingers within silences.