“A woman is a branchy tree / And a man a singing wind…” (James Stephens)
If this be true, what the Irish poet said,
Then the hour has come when
She stands here in wild miscellany,
Tricked out in a fluttering tatters-coat—
All loose ends and ribbons of threadbare leaves—
No rhyme or reason
In the unreeling lateness of the season:
Just a tree through whom long winds have blown
Yet found her sap still rising.
Halt. Hold. The Morris melody is slowing.
All outward shows—the dizzy dancing,
Aching two-part harmonies,
The crazy sawing of a break-down fiddle bow—
All tend to a low decrescendo.
Dressed up in folklore, got up in motley,
Clad in chaos & cross-stitch, colour & cacophony,
Her life reveals—now that this branchy tree
Is shedding leaves—no more than an autumn unravelling.
And should you look closer
At the leafy tracery, the intricate embroidery,
You’ll see, sometimes, the seams & stitches
Are shot through with golden threads;
The beams & branches
Are arrow-tipped with hopeful buds.
Though the manic wind may whistle
Round her delicately veined leaves,
It shall not stop her singing. Never.
No. Nor the birds
Within these silver branches.
(c) Lizzie Ballagher