The Field of Light
See the road the women took, the shattered
wives and daughters of the men who tottered
in endless file to fill the charnel field
mapped out with care to bury each male child
along with father, brother, young and old
it did not matter, everyone had cold
and charted space arranged by General’s hand
held steady for the cleansing of his land.
The women passed thin trees devoid of leaves
where men, who fell exhausted to their knees
were hanged as tragic mobiles in the wind,
left there until their frozen spirits dimmed,
slipped into new dimensions, far away
from where eight thousand dug their graves that day.
The shooting rang a devil’s tap dance through
the sky, smoke-filled from grey to blackened blue,
the deed well done by robot soldiers drilled
to follow orders, ask no questions, skilled
in killing weeds in their divided fields,
allotments kept for drills of plants the same
in every seeded gene, façade and name.
Their wives and daughters reached the silent field
with spades and trowels they planted bulbs, well heeled
dug deep to save them under pall of frost,
white lilies, one for every loved one lost.
In Spring, they see an ocean of tall blooms
snowbirds that sing with plaintive call of loons,
at night they have an incandescent glow,
lone astronauts can spot their shine below
diffusing stars along the galaxy,
immortal, radiant each night and day,
judgement for those who looked the other way.
By Alma Brayden
You came back to the house of the angry
woman but she rejected your beauty.
Three seasons you returned to build your nest,
tired from marathon flight, the need for rest
before the restoration of your goal:
the reconstruction of your broken home
with air-born material caught in flight
fine, intertwined, saliva-bonded tight,
perfect for the young you planned to nurture,
strong enough for fledgling flight to future.
That dream she shattered with long bristle brush
then tried to batter you in mad uprush.
She did not care about your marathon,
the pain and hazards you had overcome.
You left parched swelter of African sands
driven by nature’s force to cooler lands.
High overhead, you crossed a sea of dead,
the living crammed in makeshift boats, outspread
from wrecked worlds, with no compass for their loss
they drowned in angry waves of pitch and toss,
families broken, bits and pieces taken
from the cherished homes they had forsaken.
Like you, they are not valued far from home,
months later, they will send them back alone.
If, like Swifts, they could derive nutrition
in mid-flight, they might escape to freedom,
build elevated dwellings safe from war
for winged Ariel children, each a star,
while you might make your nest high in the air
of cirrus clouds and white contrails, to care
and tend your young untroubled in the sky
to scythe its field of blue until they die.
Alma Brayden is a poet and visual artist. Her first collection “Prism” was published by Seven Towers in 2010. Her work has appeared in many anthologies, literary magazines. She has had numerous solo art exhibitions and has been included in R.H.A Summer Exhibitions and the Oireachtas Art Exhibition. Her work featured as the cover for the first two Dalkey Writers anthologies. She was a prize winner in the Troubadour International Poetry Competition 2014. Her poems paint colourful and vibrant word pictures that merge into a rich tapestry of experience in different poetic forms.
Her artwork follows the same theme which is shown below with a few pieces she has written.
The Cutting Edge
The stone held the secret
guarded in its marble heart,
flawed, discarded block
chosen at random,
its veined paths
would guide his eye,
lead his hand
to find the hidden
figure from Carrara
waiting since pre-history.
The sculptor toiled
to feel the shape,
groped with probing
chiselled them out
to face the sky.
he ran his hands
over bone and muscle,
smooth marbled skin
of the finished figure,
it was good -
David stood to fight
his monumental hero
brought to light.
The Broighter Boat
first century BC, Broighter Co. Derry