THE BULL OF CONFLICT, by Lorna Smithers:

I come from battle and conflict
With a shield in my hand;
Broken is the helmet
By the pushing of spears.
‘Poem referring to Gwyddno and Gwyn ap Nudd’ – ‘Black Book of Carmarthen XXXIII.’

On an empty day automata drift
Wending suit shapes through the mist.
Touchless I fade like a symbol unhitched
The spoils of war quake in the museum.
Piercing the grey wearing horns of a bull
A white warrior blackened and bloodied
Disguises his limp in an infinite gloom
On his spear leans, softly says:
“My comrades are slain and yet I live.
I come from battle and conflict.”

His dire avowal brings howling winds
Chill clutch at my shoulders their lament dins
Of hero light fading from mortal skin.
In glass cabinets swords clash savage
Raging figures thrash on ragged pages
Chanting the desolate past of ravaged war bands.
With war-torn wisdom, sombrely he whispers:
“These gathered memories to you I give
Gone are the days I crossed this land
With a shield in my hand.”

His barrage of sadness barks in my mind
Like hapless hounds on a winter’s night
Fierce their madness dark their plight
For the perishing souls they collect
The past’s great spirit protect.
Like thundering wind obligation overwhelms me
The blade of futility threatens to unfasten me.
“How do I cherish and defend these memories
When like the kingdoms of Rheged and Elmet
Broken is the helmet?”

I ask the Bull of Conflict.
His tears run bright with the passing of time
Chariots wheeling in multihued light
Victims reflected in star lit skies.
He says: “this shadow land needs enchantment
To banish the blight of despair.
Nurture the memories by magic
And they’ll sing a blessed new year.
Do not be pressed into fear
By the pushing of spears.”
Lorna Smithers lives in Lancashire, in the North West of England. She writes poetry inspired by the Bardic Tradition about nature, local history and British myth. Her work has appeared in ‘The Dawn Treader’ and ‘Myths Inscribed.’  Her poem ‘Proud of Preston’ is the Preston Guild Poem of 2012. You can learn more about Lorna and her work at her website: Mythical Lancashire: The Bardic Blog of Lorna Smithers

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