Words Wandering in an Irish Forest
were stopped by three Celtic priests.
First, a druid. “Let me commit you
to memory,” he said. “I will use you
in my magic.” The words performed for him,
stretching themselves into ambigrams,
letters changing places, forming new sounds.
Then a vates, with dark hair, spoke.
She stretched out the arm of her leafy robes
and sighed. “I’m going to use you
in my sacrifice tonight. I will speak you before
I place the knife. You will not die. You will fall
softly onto herbs and plants in my basket,
will find yourself arranged in ancestral patterns,
newly created into old syllables.” She waved her hand,
and the words were coated with Irish soil.
The bard approached. He held his open palm above the words,
felt their sprawl of energy, their heat.
Slan-ogus, Bannacht-leat, he said, “Goodbye and blessings on you.
You will suffer before you return. Now we must go.”
The three Celtic priests walked away.
The three words gave themselves to the wind—
waited for their time to come.
History. Diaspora. Roots.
Vates is one of the three kinds of Celtic priest- the others being the druids and bards. The vates knew the healing properties of trees, and studied the processes of death and healing.
Previously published in New Works Review