"Mizen Head, County Cork, Ireland"
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Today begins a new adventure, one that I will no doubt write a great deal about in the future. Today is the beginning of an inner journey - an epic journey - an odyssey - back to the beginning of "me".
Here are the two poems that began me on this quest.
Grandma was short
with blue-black hair
cut pixie style
and wild green eyes
that you could never forget
because they twinkled so!
She laughed a lot -
told funny stories
from old Ireland -
Mommy would laugh
as she told me
the crazy things they did…
Funny, she left this world
long before I came -
but, Mommy’s words
paint a Grandma
to hold deep
within my heart.
O’Riordan – The King’s Poet
When I was half-past six years old,
the world still filled the 5 by 10 space of my room.
Momma said the world outside
was large and ample like her breasts which
comforted me long after I had weaned.
Teacher said the world was strange and frightening.
Heathens lurked behind pagan monuments.
The books from the library filled my dreams with images of
green rolling hills, majestic mountains, desert islands,
exotic and wonderful regalia…hand-woven, beaded, embroidered.
Inhabitants of the world looked at me through the flat pages.
Their smiles, or lack of them, shining from eyes that knew only
the defined space of their existence.
How I longed to find my way back to the roots that,
Transplanted, grew in this space, now.
While peeling potatoes, Momma told me
of Nana O’Riordan’s home in Ireland…
The lush, green hills like the velvet on the rolled arms of the sofa.
The fight to stay free…Lives lost in battles over what?
A language, almost lost, that sounded like a lullaby,
The hard times…famine…
Her tears fell freely, mixing with the broth.
I finished peeling my piece of life, vowing at half-past six
to return to the land that the “king’s poet” left…
vowing to uphold the family’s gift of word…
vowing to give back what had been taken away,
when the potatoes rotted like a cancer in the green fields…
vowing to share the gift of words with all those who could read
or hear or hold a potato in their hands and still feel the life beating within.
At half-past six years old, I stood at the threshold of my 5 by10 life,
opened the windows of hope, looked out into the field of dreams,
knowing that I would create the words to heal the scars left
when Nana fled her home.
The words I would use would be balm to Momma’s soul,
They would bring her peace.
She would see the “King’s Poet” come alive…
Linda Rhinehart Neas © 2004