National Poetry Month: Changeling

This poem still cuts me to the quick. I wrote it about my sister. (If you don’t know her tragic story, it’s here on my blog.) I wrote this poem to cope with what had happened to her, leveraging our Irish heritage and mythology. It helped immensely. But as transformative pieces often do, it stirs the coals under a cauldron of powerful emotions. (Artwork by Stefan Keller.)


Fairies stole my sister
One cold October morning.
At louche ends
On a school holiday,
My sister climbed into
The Porsche of a popular boy.  
The rain pelted the windshield,
Loosening the oils from the asphalt.
Still they spun down winding roads
Into the wyrd wood…
When the Porsche struck
A hoary tree
Her head cracked the window, and
The fey plucked her from
The bloodied seat. 
“Quick! Quick!” they cried,
Making the vile exchange.
A nurse happened to trundle by
On her way to the ward
When she found
The unconscious girl
And the unharmed boy.
Away went my sister
— or so it appeared to be she
and not a banshee —
To x-rays and hallways 
And the surgeon’s icy knife.

As I gazed upon her,
In that ammonia-choked room,
She looked as though she’d
Fallen into a fairy sleep,
Eyes opening languidly
Over weeks and months 
As the transition took hold.
Those hateful hobs — 
Her speech now
Garbled and mangled,
Lips contorted
Into a withering scowl.
Her memory hollow,
Corrupt with half-truths.
Twisted legs
And halting gait, 
The guise of a goblin
Giggling at our grief.

My true sister
Sleeps with the sylphs and
Awakens to the playful placement
Of bluebells in her braided hair
Under the gnarled boughs
Of Ballyboley
Or deep in the heart of
Wicked Paimpont 
Where the sunlight burns
Through murmuring shadow
To warm her brow.
Where Cu Chulainn and
Finn Mac Cool wage wars
For her delicate hand,
The wind shimmers with
Fey gaiety and glamour.
And each e’entide her voice
Stirs the air
With songs so radiantly sweet
That the tuatha
Stop to listen,
Caught in the rapture of
Her remembering…

They won’t
Bring her back.
Not even for my life.

I’ve tried

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