Patricia Leighton

(elegy for ghosts of the cillíní)

gilt suns sink below black hills
shrouds of red clouds darken
and the moon rises

on nights like these
secretly sorrowing
fathers laid their small burdens
into the earth
left un-named markers
rough white stones

they those they told
alone knew who or where
until they in their turn died
time slipped
and secrets grew

tread gently breathe softly

where generations of untouched
child-souls render these places holy
for whispers of baby-voices
chuckle-cries play-by-night spirits
light as moths
rising falling flitting
hide-and-seeking amongst
wind blown grasses
maybe crying
sense too
between moss grown hummocks
shades of homespun madonnas
searching returning searching
unseen boots treading old tracks
the crack of fallen twigs snapping
like broken crucifixes
permeating every spadeful
of spent soil

through seasons
cillíní landscapes cling on
scattered like unstrung rosary
beads across the fabric of the land

winging through air
puncturing a people’s history
sending up
a thousand thousand Kyries
for the living and the dead

Note: cillíní were/are (still are, where they’ve been re-found
and commemorated) the burial places where for centuries
communities laid the bodies of unbaptised babies and
children to rest, the Church refusing them burial in
consecrated ground.

Patricia Leighton lives in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. She has work published in a range of magazines including Orbis, Artemis, Envoi and Bridport and Ledbury anthologies. This is her first contribution to Acumen. She is a member of Border Poets.