Please help the Black Earth Institute continue to make art and grow community so needed for our time. Donate now »

a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Máighréad Medbh

When I Was Ant

When I was ant, mite, beetle, low-scuttling to the grains,
a blade of grass was sequoia, not green but seismicity,
but red in the eyes, a bulge and a danger, thump of foot
no lingoed thing, only world changing.
So I rode it, hid in its grooves, in the darkness large
as nosight, drop that is ocean, burred to its back,
its decoration, its untied button and its stamp.
Wheee, I cried, and nothing heard but the ant next door.
Now I am tall as saplings, pushing out the troposphere,
can straighten up and look, there’s the real thing.
Climb no sequoias though, push down no oaks but
by tool. I am axe, knife, whisk and can-opener, cyborg.
Then world sends light through my apartment window,
lens of built box, incidental body, voile of dust and drops
on the glass; once bright, twice askant. I am lamped,
waiting for the next move, dream, death or dry retch.
Yellow rises over scope of houses, grimalkin clouds in
its wake, while skin of the planned grass shivers from
meddling wind, naked trees wag and bow. Strike
peach and pink into the picture and the room changes,
makes me sequacious, shrinks me to a drop, burns me
to hydrogen and burns again. What am I? Yellow butters
the sky, spreads on slices of lives and eats me in this
morning moment when I am aardvark, rabbit, badger,
fish in a bowl, everything.

Yellow Woman
(Eclogue in a dispirited time)

The Seeker:
The movement was small and quick, caught from my high, glazed window, stolen from the glare of the urban pastiche. There was a flash of something yellow, like a fox crossing a dark road, then a frozen moment, as if a single raindrop had stopped to be noticed in the pattering mob. I think I’ve reached the spot, but where is it, she?

Yellow Woman:
in a green hedge masquerading as a small sun
see me sway see my petals spread
welcome welcome to my yellow bed
my soft thrown sheets my yellow furry pillow
and my stem that takes you places under all this rain

The Seeker:
I don’t understand this landscape. It’s lush in places, then sparse in vegetation and even sandy. Where’s the sense in that? As if the ground were making its own weather. And what can be eaten here? I see no crops.

Yellow Woman:
in the fruity eateries at the tops of trees
watch how my tongue slinks about
peeled priapic bananas licks pineapple
sucks kiwi and bulbing ripe tomatoes
showers you in juices after all that cloud

The Seeker:
My clothes cling to my body like frightened children. The pursuit has made me sweat. I let my jacket fall. Then everything else. It’s warm enough to be naked, but for how long? What kind of clothes are suitable here?

Yellow Woman
skin cling tight in a filmy wrap
is cloaked by trail-web clasped by shell
dress green in grass and purple in heather
with a flared skirt so my legs can stretch
and your head sneak under after all that noise

The Seeker
I have commitments. I have a duty to the race. Urgent messages, admonishing bleeps, a tin chorus of efficient routine, make the score that colours my life. But here is indolence; nothing seems employed, except in swaying and sending smells.

Yellow Woman

my femurs feeling through confused grass
i twist shake limbs learn the melodies of small
make them echo make them echo through
hear them gained always by another
whistle them to you after all that wind

The Seeker:
If I didn’t worry, if I sank and spread my limbs,
would my mind become that dreaded thing,
an obsolete machine, pitched in an empty room,
though recycled, never knowing what it has become?

Yellow Woman:

everything has value in the nether parts of trees
gorse and tangled bushes stray thorns
i am currency to every rush and riverbank
hold shares in breath and wide spaces
give you ground for yourself after all those quakes

The Seeker:
The ground has spawned a fluid feel,
as if it were it about to fly. But where?
Back to that tin chorus, those needy bleeps,
a calipered symphony
or simply
fold me in

wide open
your fingers searching past midnight
skirt the event horizon
            part gaseous swirls
            think worlds
            whose light can’t reach you
explore now and ever
it will not be the same
            those rogue strands of inter-planetary matter
            will remember you
            will tauten when next you approach
a smile of intent will be enough
when you are entangled
            the way will weaken its resistance
            slow its dark walk and listen
                     flexible walls heaving
what there is will be given
            and still light eludes
your fingers want to be longer
how much must you travel
            to know this world
your brain itself unknown
therefore your instruments
the depths of sea less travelled than space
            and this space
            that is cave
            has no end
even when with greater calculation
            you boldly go
            and are swept in
you are absorbed
and glean more data
phenomena startle you with feeling
            here a sound
                     a sense of water
                     a flat shape bulging to satellite
the hope is unity
            finding and the found together
            collapse time
            instruments evolve
the world replies
            pulsing by the second
            tells you things without grammar
            explains itself in signals
whose meanings you can’t wait to decode
Máighréad Medbh has published five poetry collections and a CD. Described as ‘a unique presence in the Irish poetry scene’, she was one of the pioneers of performance poetry in Ireland in the 1990s, and continues to impress audiences with her unique style and approach to text. She says: ‘For me it’s about sourcing the physical motivation behind the thought. My basic method is to mine the body for its reactions to chosen themes.’ In recent years, Máighréad has written two elaborate fantasies, one for children. A book of aphoristic reflections on the lone state, Savage Solitude, is to be published by Dedalus Press, Dublin, in February 2013. Máighréad publishes a monthly blog on her website:



©2024 Black Earth Institute. All rights reserved.  |  ISSN# 2327-784X  |  Site Admin