Shipwreck winds night-howling, half-moon
Eclipsed by storm clouds, sailing ship-mast
Broken, against cliff rocks splintering, death
On western Irish isles. Next morn, lifeless
Passengers washed up Scottish shores,
Bodies pale in surf winter-cold, flotsam,
Belongings found amongst rocks, collected-
Kept by fishing families. “It’s salvage law,
Willow,” Papa said. “No hope of recovery.”
Bodies found, nameless girl, sand-matted
Henna hair. Her dress, shoes, hearth-drying,
Fit me all too well.
Silver rings, Celtic woven knot, taken from
Her fingers. Fearful of evoking ancient
Curses, parson said I was trespassing,
Stealing from the dead. Rocky frozen earth,
Shoveled graves, girl of mystery, blue eyes
Closed to sunlight. Hillside hymns and
Prayers, standing stones erected in their
Honour, promise of resurrection, eternal life,
Dead’s heavenly reward. Her dress, rings,
Brown leather shoes I wore, laces ankle high,
Purchased for sea voyage, how pleased she
Was, perusing sailing decks.
Upon cloud-swept highlands, I wandered,
Presence felt skin-close. “I am here, your
Clothes and rings I wear.” Lo! Mist-veiled
Specter hovering just out of reach. “I am
Lost,” she wind-whispered, bone-deep
Chilling voice. “I am lost,” she repeated.
“I know not who or where I am.” “Outer
Irish isles,” I replied. “Friends, worried about
You.” Both arms, she grasped me, clutched
To vaporous self, turgid tides colliding,
Whirlwind of ghost-wreathed souls and
Hair, on rocky heights, we collapsed as one.
Which of us would out-ride storm of self,
Take first breath anew, blurt words aloud?
By clothing, rings, she attached herself to me
“I am Willow, leave me be,” I shouted. “I am
Ríonach,” apparition within countered. “To
You I am attached.” Ríonach’s dress I tore
From self, shoes kicked from feet. Yet, she
Was lashed fast, until I lit her clothes afire,
Tossed her rings, burnt leather shoes from
Clifftops into the sea. As Ríonach spirited
Away, I realized she had to dead shipwrecked
Girl as she had done to me.
Late-night poem, Willow’s ghostly misadventure.
Who is Willow? Transient poetic character accompanying
me whilst traveling on winter trips. Thanks for reading.