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by Mary Palmer




wild hair, grey

to the shoulder


a wolf, smalt eyes burning

with a clear flame


this Celt warrior

smoulders into song


in Relig Oran’s dolman chapel

commands the flow of voices

over stone


murmurings, that echo –

an ocean flooding in


so light strikes the silver cross

beneath a graven lintel


as solstice sun

skeletons seated in an ancient barrow:


tongues of fire could descend –

the howl of grief, ‘I want him back!’


tinder dry bones

and this Cave of Death


rattle with dancing

     Black Madonna


         St Michael’s Chapel




tiger lilies

should garland you


their petals, like tongues of fire

blazing in the slave-dark.



            candles gutter

and your skin gleams

as if stained by tears


yet, soul quiet,

a light


in your downcast eyes,

a light we cannot violate.                                                                                                  



dragon buds unleashing flame,

I halo you


and wreath your son,

newborn to dung and dirt.

 Pasture of the Geese


I have crawled on beaches,

hands sticky with blood and tar


clambered rocks where

the guillemot draggles

oil-slicked wings.


No more angel than a shag,

a junkie tossed to the gulls,

I gobbled up my nightmare

and retched on the dark.


Now, I treasure-trail barefoot,

squat on dunes soft as breasts

where water-flags surge

and lambs shudder the ewe.


Here, in this thin place,

I choose to dream.


Milk-blue terns


         on water

like pebbles skim my longing –


for the wild goose

whose wings, alone,

can shelter.

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