Labous An Ankou

Little owl, Athena’s companion,
Protector of a Parthenon;
Tidings glad or firmly foul
Depend on where you’re from.

You took my parts collapsed
With Brittonic tradition, yes;
Nailed me to a cottage door,
My feather fetlocks pinioned.

To shepherd the dieing dearly
Through their letterboxes,
Protector of transitions are
The starry bear and foxes.

Barn owls frequently are found
In farming cattle troughs;
We sacrificed the way to float
For silence while aloft.

Song Of Sorrows

An elderly woman from the well
Expanded songs within a pail,
Through the southern snow-bound spell
Songs of thrush and songs of snail.

I’ve never seen a silver cloud,
Only grey or golden,
A longer furrow’s better ploughed
If beliefs are less beholden

Than the love you feel.
Wine is thicker than blood which heals;
Break butterflies on a Catherine wheel
And luncheon-loaves will turn to eels.

With these words she repeated
And gravely villagers gave her thanks,
She dragged the Sun and had well-heated
Copper pipes and mouldy tanks.

The lady gave me her dodmen
And bid me fill the urn,
I travelled from Beccles to Bodmin
But nothing could I learn,

For the pail was lined with silver,
Filled with clouds like coal,
Her songs leaked out, customs bewildered;
I had not sealed the sorrow-hole.