Poem: Fearn – The Alder

This is one of my intermittent ogham poems, based on the interpretation of Erynn Rowan Laurie in her excellent work, Weaving Word Wisdom. Can you name the myth cycle interpreted below?

With the circling of palms, I guard it --
blade-sides together, a beating heart
the war dance of a band of brothers.
My back your shield, oh! My back your shield.

Can you run featherlight over grass
without stirring the blades? Can you pluck
the thorn from your foot without missing
a stride, each hair of your braid in place?

Can you dodge the speartip while buried
in dirt up to the waist? Can your tongue
sling fire and honey? Do omens call
you, brother? Do you shrug off their webs

for that greater binding? Do you run
with the pack? Do you have the soul of
a poet? A killer? Do you know
them to be one and the same, brother?

O Finn, I am lying on the grass.
My shield splintered, the tusk of the boar
the goad that drove the ox of my fate.
With the circling of palms, I guard it --

But each vow is its own undoing.
A drink from your hands will make it whole,
re-forge the ring of the oath. Fair words
and fair deeds, is that all we aspire?

My back your field, oh! My back your shield.
The hands curved into one heart, holding
the water, our unspoken love, grief.
You part your fingers, freeing the drops

to the foot of the alder. Each one
caught by the light in the act of falling,
dearer than diamonds, scattering wide
to feed the green, and my mouth still dry.

With the circling of palms, I guard it:
the vow of my own undoing.
A drink from your hands will make it whole.
Do you have the soul of a poet?

Diarmuid, illustration by Beatrice Elvery in Violet Russell's Heroes of the Dawn (1914). Via Wikimedia Commons.

Diarmuid, illustration by Beatrice Elvery in Violet Russell's Heroes of the Dawn (1914). Via Wikimedia Commons.

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