She Whose Name Shall Be a Blog

She Whose Name Shall Be a Blog

From the land

red haired girl from the bog Patricia Monaghan

“What I know of the spirit, I have learned not from books but from the land. Ireland is a great teacher, for it harks back to a pre-Cartesian world where mind and body and spirit were not yet artificially divided. Similarly, nature and humanity are not separated there.”

These words, from Patrician Monaghan, were among many quotable references in her book Red-Haired Girl from the Bog. When I heard, in 2012, that she had passed, I was devastated. I would never get to meet her. I would never get to read more of her writings on Ireland.

So I take what I can, these beautiful words from her time in Ireland. I take the lessons of conviviality, of living in community, of being a steward to the land.

May we take these lessons and connect with our own land, learn from the place where we are rooted. Instead of drinking the day away, let’s listen to the sound of a waning winter. Let’s welcome spring. Here in Illinois, it’s slow in coming, but coming nonetheless. What a lesson in patience. What a lesson from Ireland, from Patricia. What is your land teaching you?


Fleshy Mess


The sun only rose once,
so I stepped to the edge,
right there were the wilderness began,
and listened to the caws.
It was a becoming,
a metamorphosis
as I joined them high in the trees.
“Learn their language,”
the voice rang out.
And it was easy.
It was easy to walk away from humanity,
to have feathers for a change.
Until I realized that I was not the beautiful Ibis,
I was not the ephemeral beauty
gliding through golden light.
I was the crow, and I always would be.
I’d return to my flesh and be a human crow.
They’d make men of straw to scare me off.
Or maybe I’d just be another fleshy mess,
watching the sun circle me.

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Muira Brennan must break her town’s curse with her dad’s rosary in one hand and a witch’s spell in the other; maybe the answer isn’t as simple as she thought.

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