by Thomas Davis
Fionn, son of Mairne, a Chief Druid’s daughter, was instructed by the Druid…to cook for him a salmon fished for a deep pool…and forbidden to taste it; but as Fionn was turning the fish over in the pan he burned his thumb, which he put into his mouth and so received the gift of inspiration. For the salmon was a salmon of knowledge, that had fed on nuts fallen from the nine hazels of poetic art. Robert Graves, The White Goddess. 1966 (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), p. 75.
Upon the dark dolomite jutting
Shoreline out into lake waters,
Brooding, the poet pondered, rising
Vapors misting white where otters
Often twisted brown bodies in brightness
During days of lithesome lightness.
Longing to discover poetry’s essence,
Plunging into intensifying agony,
Its agitated angst and strange candescence,
Searching for wisps of hope, honey
Spirited into hazel nuts fallen
Into waters fused with wisdom’s pollen,
Praying, the poet chanted phrases
Empty of meaning, madness exploding
Dystopian dreams into glazes
Filming stratums in mist, imploding
Into a dance of time: Land distinct,
Shrouding tales of peoples long extinct.
Milky mist rose from the waters.
Paddling in a coracle, Fionn,
Singing softly as sleek otters,
Angled after salmon in an eon
Infusing words into desperation.
Dancing in the poet’s pounding
Heartbeat, language’s lilting incantation
Metamorphosed landscapes, people’s living,
Into a singing suffusion of creation:
Fionn spanning time and continents,
Salmon swimming past despair to resonance.