Samhain by Annie Finch (excerpt)
In the season leaves should love,
since it gives them leave to move
through the wind, towards the ground
they were watching while they hung,
legend says there is a seam
stitching darkness like a name.
Now when dying grasses veil
earth from the sky in one last pale
wave, as autumn dies to bring
winter back, and then the spring,
we who die ourselves can peel
back another kind of veil
that hangs among us like thick smoke.
Tonight at last I feel it shake.
I feel the nights stretching away
thousands long behind the days
till they reach the darkness where
all of me is ancestor.
According to Irish legend, Samhain is the time of year when portals to the “otherworld” open, allowing the souls of the dead to cross into our world. More modern festivities taking place around All Hallows Eve carry on these Celtic traditions in a Christian context. While visiting some medieval sites in Ireland during Samhain, 2017, I imagined spirits of the departed inhabiting the ancient stones and crumbling edifices, fields and pathways. Sites represented in these photos span almost 1,000 years (in some cases of almost constant human habitation). They include a hedgerow near Kilkenny, a River Maigue streambank where women did their washing, Kells Priory, the Rock of Cashel, Glendalough Monastery, and Jerpoint and Quinn Abbeys.