During the darkest months of the year,
overhanging the wild Atlantic waves,
the old ruined castle of Dunluce,
sitting on its rock above the green sea water
of the Antrim coast. Wail of the Banshee,
sound of the hollow wind, mourning
Ireland's want through her bitter loss
the scattered Chieftains of the Gael.
Her thin scream is caoine, is ‘keening’.
Long, red frizz and very pale skin.
Old woman with stringy, gray hair,
rotten teeth and fiery red eyes.
Shapeshifter. The washer woman
cleans bloody rags on a river shore.
King James I of Scotland
murdered soon after he met
a strange Irish seer.
Aware of a human’s watching,
the banshee disappears into the mist
with a fluttering sound
and the cry of the barn owl.
The storm springs upon us with sudden
ferocity. Branches lash the air, tree trunks sigh.
Pears from the trees by the road
splutter onto asphalt, and into ditches
which will soon be running rivers.
The first heavy drops of rain.
We count the seconds between lightning and thunder.
I am soaked through.
My skin contracts in fear and excitement.
We wade barefoot into the ditches
in the full knowledge that we’ll be devoured
by whatever lives and squishes up from the bottom
between our toes, those soft round bodies
we know hide under the mud because
we tread on their wet-grass-like feelers,
and—Sir Galahads all–collect as many
of the squashed pears as we can carry.
A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of TANGENTS, a poetry collection published in the UK in 2010/2011, her recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in a good two dozen US poetry reviews (online and print).