Poetry by Frances Roberts-Reilly, descendant of Abram Wood and the notable family of Welsh triple harpists, fiddlers and storytellers
ILS FOR TEA
The yog burns low after dark
The waning moon is hushed.
‘Kushti light for catching Ils,’ said Dadus,
Time to jal and catch some
‘Get me a ball of wool, ducks
Empty out the worm pail’
He threads the worms on the wool
‘Them ils grabs on and don’t let go.’
While the kam still sleeps, he returns
Them ils writhing in his sack.
Puts them in bucket and shoves
them under the bed.
All night long them ils they sloshed.
‘Ils loves the dark,’ he said.
Me mam takes them, whacks and
kills them right there on the pov.
Me Dadus nails them ils on a tree, stripping
off them skins with pliers.
Then he soaks them in salt water
‘Gets rid of the mokadi muddy taste,’ he said.
Them ils we fried in butter on the yog
in a big black iron pot with a big handle over it.
We didn’t wait for the hobin to finish.
We used to stick a fork in any cooked piece.
We wolfed them down.
Kushti bit of scran.
I love all these memories.
I’d forgot ils.
Yog – campfire
Dadus – dad, father
Ils – eels
Kushti – good
Jal – leave, go
Kam – sun
Pov – earth, ground
Mokadi – Taint
Hobin – cooking
Scran – food
ET IN ARCADIA EGO
Death came, stealthily at night,
slinking over the garden wall.
As a shape shifter,
hidden in the jealous heart unrequited by love.
As a demiurge drunk on the power of its own reflection.
On the scorching, emptying wind that frightens.
I heard you, death –
In the wail of the abandoned newborn at City Hall.
I felt you –
In the dulled agony of a woman wandering in madness.
I touched you –
On the last breath on my mother’s cold blue lips.
I smelled you –
In the apple orchard’s composting heap where
the monks gathered Fall’s red fruit.
The world says there is no death in paradise,
that here in Eden, you do not exist.
Like God, modernity has also denied Death.
Truly, no one can say for sure.
But Death is merely hiding,
suddenly crackling and firing the synapses.
Erupting in a lusty burst of awful presence
in this bucolic glade.
Announces “I am here!” And,
Yes, yes. I’m the mystery, unraveling…
Paradox is the plural of Paradise.
Don’t you know.
And that’s why Death –
even in lovely Paradise –