Poem by Ariela Hercek
DÁ FHADA AN LÁ TAGANN AN TRÁTHNÓNA*
Recently I’ve learned
that the Irish have a word for every
seemingly trying period of year
we go through:
May with its schoolwork and
shaky weather and tiredness is
a time for growth and yellow flowers.
I want to dip my hands into the bright orange of the bonfire
and watch the cattle feast
on the green grass,
hearing the song of aos sí drawl on over
And when it comes to August, I have
always been too cowardly to admit that it’s the loneliest month of all.
All this harvest, the fruits we offer,
all of it empty joy,
but the Irish celebrated Lúnasa like it was
a time to breathe and revel
in what the earth had painfully produced.
Nothing ever grows anymore like it used to –
the soil is worn-out and the cracks resemble a hollow truth.
What I like most about the Irish though,
is that they found enough light in them
to make even the beginning of the darker half
of the year something worth celebrating –
Samhain with its crackling wood and
the spaces liminal in time –
there are no ghosts and
mythical creatures don’t exist, yet
I am still trying to figure out if,
in the darkness of my room,
the shape in the corner is just my imagination
running too fast for me to follow
or if it’s a spirit, here to claim the darkness.
But the darkness persists. It resides
in all of us and we all have our ghosts
and our secrets and
they are eating at us, aren’t they?
Maybe there is such a thing as magic
and maybe the Irish were on to something
when they acknowledged Samhain
as a time to celebrate,
but I’d rather spend my years
following the sound of laughter through the forest,
toasting to Lá Fhéill Bríde and its blooming –
a time to believe in growth and
opportunity once again,
to recognize a blessing when it
knocks on your door.
It gives me hope that maybe
the earth will be fertile once again
and maybe we will be in love with her children
and maybe all of this new-age political drama
is only a vessel that is leading us
towards the holy water that will clean
And we will be green again.
*Dá fhada an lá tagann an tráthnóna. = No matter how long the day, the evening comes. (No matter how bad things are, they will end.)
Originally published in Issue XIX in December 2019.