By Catherine A. Coundjeris

A Celtic Knot of Genetic Memories

I have flown through black night into bright day—
a glistening comet, streaking through space.
I have breathed the rains of Chesapeake Bay.
I have hugged the green coast from Dublin place
All the way to the heart of Roscommon.
I have mapped a street like an unknown face.
Memory wakened in me an uncommon
thought.  Knew a city I had never walked.
Met a man in Cork who like a shaman
Gave me something of himself—a prayer hawk—
We talked of mercy and the rains of home.
Wrote his address in the back of a book.
Then I said goodbye and started to roam.
Headed down another road to another city.
I searched for unearthly skies above the loam.
Where the stars are all close and shiny,
The ruins of St Kevin were covered in rooks.
The snows fell; the lake was cold and icy.
I sought safe shelter by a grey stone nook.
Found a horned-mountain goat eating hay.
He barely noticed.  He wasn’t spooked.
A goat so glossy I got carried away
And took its picture such a gorgeous size.
I left it behind and was on my way.
Down a different road under a native sky.
County Kerry, Dingle Peninsula.
They thought I spoke Irish.  I couldn’t though I tried.
On the cliffs of Moher thunderstruck by an idea
Cantering cows chased us as we slog
Towards their laughing farmer via our path.
With great effort I biked to Castlerea.
Stopped, by the blue eyes of a sheep dog.
Drank ale with the butcher, a nice fellah.
On I went. The miles rolled by in the fog.
The land was foreign, but I knew the way.
My journey looped like a Celtic knot.
I have flown through the black night into bright day
Headed to an unknown place; I know the way.

Autumn Sensibility

Where have all the leaves gone?
Wind and rain and cold.
It is near to
Thanksgiving Day.
How fast the days have fled
How November turns to December
Long nights stretch out ahead.
Darkness descends like a cover
Over every endeavor after five.
It is getting hard to remember
when the garden was full and alive.
Summer nights complete with festival and song
have vanished in the wails and gusts
even the song birds have flown.
Trees stand like brown sticks
against the vault of sky and space.
Time mimics the barren waste,
but the geese come each autumn.
Their conversations echo in this place,
whirling shades of gray and brown
reflections in the pond.
How I long to change the reason
why we never met in the park,
but there is no rhyme to my story
just the daily grind that kept us apart.
The mountain stands in shadows
the sky is heavy and gray.
Silence deadens earth as the night turns into day.

Prayer for the Potato Crop by Jean Francois Millet: Annals from the Little Ice Age

At dawn they stood on the potato fields so neat and brown.
A young couple with eyes cast down three arms lengths apart
He prayed with his hat in hand. A pitch fork to furrow the hard ground.
Surrounded by naked earth not even a crow dipped down and darted.
At midday, the steeple bells tolled through the cold air from the distant town.
A little wheelbarrow loaded down with all their all goods to sell.
The steeple bells tolled through the cold air from the distant town.
Their heads bowed down as they wept at the tolling of the bell.
At dark a little wheelbarrow loaded down with all their goods to sell.
Between them a bread basket barely filled for their evening meal.
A little wheelbarrow loaded down with all their goods to sell.
Her numb hands joined as she prayed, so tired she couldn’t even kneel.
The steeple bells tolled from the distant town to tell of God’s glory.
The steeple bells tolled from the distant town to tell their sad story.

The Resting Snake’s Nasty Bite

Beware of the resting snake’s nasty bite.
It seemed helpless on bare ground in the thaw,
But don’t trust the diamond-head it’s full of spite.
Bee stings defend honey that tastes just right.
Scorpion tail could bring down a Neanderthal,
But beware of the sunning snake’s nasty bite.
Snake eyes are pretty in the morning light
A corral one lying in the sun is beautiful,
But don’t trust the diamond-head it’s full of spite.
Remember dragon speech can paralyze.
Their fires burn from their terrible maw,
But beware of the resting snake’s nasty bite.
Often such creatures stay out of sight.
Some stumble upon them too late to withdraw,
But don’t trust the diamond-head it’s full of spite.
Snake skin’s like silk, it’s cool and nice
You can hear its tail rattle before you fall.
But beware of the hidden snake’s nasty bite.
Don’t trust the diamond-head it’s full of spite.

A former elementary school teacher, Catherine has also taught writing at Emerson College and ESL writing at Urban College in Boston.  Her poetry is published in literary magazines, including 34th Parallel Magazine Ariel Chart Magazine, The Drabble, Nightingale and Sparrow, Rune Bear, Backchannels, Inkling Magazine of the Storyteller’s Cottage, Finding the Birds, Yellow Arrow Journal, The Dawntreader, Visions with Voices, and Nine Cloud Journal.  Currently she is living with her family in Frederick and she is working on a YA novel. Catherine volunteers as an ESL Coordinator with the Literacy Council of Frederick County and she is very passionate about adult literacy.

2 thoughts on “A Celtic Knot of Genetic Memories and Other Poems

  1. I found Catherine A. Coundjeris’s poem “Autumn Sensibility” to be reflective of how we view the passage of time. Lines such as “How fast the days have fled, How November turns to December” rang true in my mind. Yes, the years do pass quickly; yes, how quickly November turns to December; yes, how quickly time does fly by. Frank Kowal 


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