Katherine Hastings



SIDHE



for Jack Foley
 




Sidhe, pronounced SHE
,

means a people of the hills.

It is the Gaelic name for fairies.

Descended from people defeated in war,

the Sidhe retreated to a different dimension of space

and time.  They have the power to move quickly

through air and change their shape at will.

The Sidhe live under mounds.

The Sidhe in this poem live
in San Francisco.




Sidhe

 

Shape-shifters

            Earth walkers

                        Night flyers

 

                        Dwellers under the hills

            Ireland/SanFrancisco

                        (there)              (there)

 

 

And For the Babe Floating On the Lake

 

in a plastic bag

            on a block of wood

 

past our doorsteps, spread (breath!)

            across our kitchen tables

 

Welcome, little O'Sidhe

of Rio de Janeiro

 

The health of the salmon to you,

a long life,

a full heart,

and a wet mouth.

           

 

 

An O'Sidhe Is Born In the Flatlands

            My mother was of Ireland,

                        My father came to dance…

 

The father 9 months later        Love like heat and cold

moves down the street                     Pierces and then is gone;

with Bernadine Of the Tight Maroon Dress

                                                Jealousy when it strikes

and Large Bosom.    Sticks in the marrowbone

 

                          Here's health to your enemy's enemies

 

 

Father O'Bank O'American Dream

New Cars        Here's health and prosperity

For the girls new matching dresses

                        to you and all your posterity

New shoes

New, New, O'New! O'New!  damned for all eternity

 

New bank examiner, new

trial, new word:

Embezzlement

 

What did the Bank Examiner say to the father of O'Sidhe?

Go to jail.

 

What did the Bank Examiner say to the mother of O'Sidhe

Marry me.

 

Here's to you and yours and to mine and ours and if

 

 

After a Small Wedding Which She Didn't Attend,

O'Sidhe Is Banished to the Hills

 

Yellow Mercury green

            interior Lucky Strikes

Closed windows    May the road rise to meet you

            600 miles northward northward northward

looking at the back of the head

            of the Mortal Son of Un-nourishing Substance

                        "Who Is He?

                                    Open the door I'm going to be sick."

 

Bottom of a hill.  Curbside.  Sunlight

            limping through the fog.

Six steps to the locked door.

            More steps.   May peace and plenty

Up.  Up.   be the first to lift the latch

 

Here's your room.  Good-bye.

 

 

 

Birdseed

 

What the Mortal Son

            of Un-nourishing Substance calls it.

   Lithium     Valium     Seconal cradled

palm of hand

            bourbon swirling

Head back re-fills

              spits "I hate the sight of you!"

O'Sidhe is five, still wondering

who is he, the cockalorum

 

O Little O'Sidhe, how is your heart now?

 

How to Go Invisible:  Get a raven's heart, split

it open with a black hafted knife, make three

cuts, place a black bean in each cut.  Plant it.

When the beans sprout put one in your mouth,

say "By virtue of Satan's heart, by strength of

my great art, I desire to be invisible."  So it will

be as long as the bean is kept in the mouth."

 


 

And the Flower Like Milk in a Dark Pantry At Night

 

Narrow hallway    Pantry    The Mortal Man

            of Un-Nourishing Substance

reaches for O'Sidhe

 

I see the color on your head but

What color is your hair

Really?

 

O'Sidhe perches high in the corner

back pushed against the ceiling.

Fi!  Fie!  Fo!  Fum!

She didn't know

Flight

until he came -- the Mortal Son.

O'Mind!  O'Powerful Mind!

No man can reach the shape-shifter.

 

I could scale the blue air

I could plough the high hills

I could kneel at night in prayer

To heal your many ills

           

 

 

 

Where O'Sidhe Keeps Her Tongue

 

In a silver box

shaped like a shield, a spear.

 

Evenings, she slips it

from safety, sings to her sister

songs of stars and moon.

 

Before sleep she plucks it,

returns it to the vault

of silent daughters.

 



 

O'Sidhe of Greenwich Street

 

Twenty-one-eighty-two is the color of dirty Caucasian flesh.

Squint your eyes: Dead doves of tissue float from the

landlord's room, rest on heads of passing schoolgirls.

Rocking to and fro he whistles one long strain.

Phantom train in the night, long forgotten teapot.

He giggles like a girl.

 

Twenty-one-eighty-two, stairs burrow under to the dirt-

walled cellar where the Mortal Man, the step-man,

mounts the whimpering stairs.  Hair wrapped around fist,

feet dangling down the hall, a garbage sack of a Sidhe

is tossed, door slammed shut.  She'd been off the block

again.  Was missing.  Was found.

 

Upstairs the teapot, downstairs the dungeon,

in between

moonlight pulled over song.

 

Twenty-one-eighty-two, through the keyhole waft of cow's

tongue, delusion tinkling on ice.  The parakeet bangs his head

against his little bell, hangs on the unforgiving hook.

Up the sun-drenched block from

 

twenty-one-eighty-two O'Sidhe finds comfort hugging concrete,

chanting safety over ants.  Walking home the windows of

Greenwich Street flare.  With one hand she catches a dove,

breathes it back to flight, with the other

turns the sizzling knob.

 

 

Yellow Dress

 

Home below the hill

papered with air

brushed skin.  Fairies are said to be beautiful

                        with long yellow hair

Women imperfectly hairless

There   and delicate forms

 

No wounds from the war

on women.  They have the power to affect human life

They are hungry and O'Sidhe

learns the lesson

and she hungers   often luring mortals

and she is alone

hungering.   into an eternal dance

 

Bare shoulder on the screen    May your body not cease

bare white shoulder       to pay me attention

strap slipping down       may your love follow my face

the yellow dress on the floor

                                       as the cow follows her calf

 

all help

 

(Fleshswell!)

 

but not enough.

 

O John Wayne

Why did you burst through that

door?

 

 

 

 

O'Sidhe Rents a Wedding Dress

 

Temporary

Light tilting through window

impaled    frigid sheets

Lonely

 

                        Give me more love or more disdain

 

He knows purity         The torrid, or the frozen zone

but not the body           Either extreme, of love, or hate,

Unresponsive flesh.        Is sweeter than a calm estate.

House of gallows

 

She leaves the flatlands,         Farewell love

snowfields,

for the bottom of the hill.       and thy laws forever

Fillmore.  Greenwich.

Called

The Bermuda Triangle.   Thy baited hooks

People vaporize

legs open    tangle me no more

to the imperfect.

 

 

An O'Sidhe Bleeds On the Street

 

from the tooth             Hearts blood

the hombre has left                 and bowel's blood

a window calls the cops                      May your eyes go blind

her hair is long, the color                     And your knees be broken!

of moon

so they will ride the hills

searching

she says Let him go    And no man in Ireland

                                   will fire the shot

he's just an hombre

 

O'Sidhe comes through the fog

to live in a car.

It's warm

most days.


 

O'Sidhe Lives Through

 

The women's hot tub

a block from the ocean.

Clothes in trees.

Naked back and forth

across the Great Highway.

One man disappears,    arms extended like a cross

morning is wrapped in a sheet    without a sound

from someone's line.       the lost are found!

 

Booze   weed    'shrooms        Angel of this sacred place

sometimes more

than she bargains for.

                        Calm her soul and whisper peace

 

Twin Peaks Woman

undresses in front of the fire

undresses O'Sidhe, too.

(O John Wayne stay away

from the shape-shifter!)

A man she thinks she loves

and comes hard to       Night flyer

but she is Irish (remember?)

and he is Jewish so,

you know,

the Mother.     Earth Walker

 

Then coke        then dope        Shape shifter

then Death with a capital D

one night standing      Night flyer

right in the corner

 
 

the 80s pounding on the door             Earth!

screaming

WAKE UP!  EVERYONE'S GOING

STRAIGHT!     Night!

 

She didn't.       Flyer!

 

 

Away, come away:

Empty your heart of its mortal dream.

 

 

            O, Dark mother

 

 ______________________________________
 

Katherine Hastings has had poems published in numerous journals and anthologies.  Her chapbooks, Sidhe and Wolf Spider were published by dPress; Lonidier Rampant and Bird. Song. Knife. Heart. were published by the Small Change Series.  Hastings founded and hosts the WordTemple Poetry Series, bringing well-established poets together with poets who have not yet published a book.  She also hosts a radio program, also called WordTemple, on Santa Rosa's NPR affiliate, KRCB 91.1 FM (for information go to www.wordtemple.com)