Rhian Edwards

Blodeuwedd

.

.       “When I took the powers of the oak and the broom and the
.       meadowsweet, and made them woman, that was a great wrong –to give
.       those powers a thinking mind.”
.       (The Owl Service)

.       “I am now a nighty rover
.       Banished to the ivy tree”
.       (anon)

 

I am Flower Face, Blodeuwedd,
conjured not born.
I am alchemised from earth,
not the humdrum of bone.

My DNA is flora. I am chimera ,
a mosaic of petals, a Molotov
cocktail of meadow sweet,
broom, oak blossom.
I bleed syrup and sap.

My Meadow sweet, mead wort,
Bride wort, grows in dampness.
I am the strewing herb to scent your floors,
I almond your stewed fruit,
I am aspirin for your acid gut,
tea for your gout and fever.

I am the gorse flowers of broom,
I thrive in parched ground.
I am dyers broom, jaundicing your wool.
I am salad, raw, pickled,
I poison your pregnancy.
I am the hanging catkin of oak,
A ticking time bomb of pollen.

For I am the fairytale catalogue bride,
Gwydion and Math’s balmy invention,
A pig brained wedding gift,
cure for the cursed
Lleu Llaw Gyff, blighted
By his own abandoning mother, aranrod
to never be loved by a human woman.

I embroider the passage of this invented
life, this preternatural marriage.
I thread petals into stitches,
caging them within the warp
and weft of this wifery.

While this husband moves inside me,
I pestle and mortar myself, decant
the pot pourri of me into the cracks
of this marital chamber.

I relive the cloaking shade of the oak,
the soft scurry of birds and insects,
tickling and sipping my nectar.
I replant myself in the meadow,
sink myself into the cwtch of the soil.

I would uproot the stones of this castle
if I could, take tenure
under the untamed, grey roof
Of the fickle, Welsh sky.

In the absence of my husband,
another man crossed my threshold
Gronw Pebyr, Lord of Penllyn,
tulipped in stag’s blood
with bluebells for eyes.

He was my prairie dog, my arrival,
my return, me drifting home to myself.
He made me blossom as compound
of elemental woman and flower.

I blame my longing on the blown
dandelion clock of my brain.
Until Gronw blurts out
that his love is likeminded.

We cling like vines, tarry
three nights in my bed,
where we parley and conspire
upon a life in perennial intertwine.

Gronw advises I divine from my Lleu
how his hermetic armour
may be chinked, how his bulletproof
skin may be pierced.

On my husband’s return, I perfume
his mind, trick him with a dream
of his demise. I ask him for the spell
of his death so that we may both cheat it.

He confesses he cannot be killed
during night or day,
neither indoors nor out,
neither clothed nor naked,
Neither on horseback nor on foot,
Nor by any weapon lawfully made.

He reveals he can only be killed
at dusk, wrapped in a net,
balancing one foot on a bath
and one on a goat, by a riverbank,
with a spear forged on a year’s worth
of Sundays while all are at mass.

After 52 Sundays, our plan is hatched.
My velvet hour stage is set,
With my netted husband
treading the air between buck and bath.

Gronw hurls the spear, which fails
to kill but turns Lleu
into the fleeing eagle
and Gronw and I rule his lands.

Gwydion, sorcerer, godfather,
my inventor, my midwife
hunts by bird husband down,
returns him to human form.

I am now the white mask, squashed,
heartface of a barn owl.
I am elderberry eyes,
fingers arthritic with talons.

I am the tattered cloak of wheat,
the wingbeat of a moth.
I am hunter, butcher, enemy of birds,
tethered to the night like a haunting.

I am witchbird, ju-ju, amulet for evil,
I am caterwaul, screech owl,
banshee scream, piccolo hoot,
A cry of mourning.

I am the retort of Too Whit
to my dead lover’s silence.
And what are feathers anyway?
But unbreakable flowers.

 

Rhian Edwards is a multi-award-winning poet and musician. Her pamphlet of poems Parade the Fib (tall-lighthouse) was awarded the PBS Choice for autumn 2008 and her first collection Clueless Dogs (Seren) won Wales Book of the Year 2013 and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2012. Rhian’s latest illustrated pamphlet Brood (Seren) was published in May 2017. Her second collection The Estate Agent’s Daughter (Seren) is due out in 2020.