Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

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 

Lá Bealtaine, 

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 

the meadows. 

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 

bloody knives, 

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 

yes, 

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 

again 

and maybe all of this new-age political drama 

is only a vessel that is leading us 

towards the holy water that will clean 

us whole. 

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.