Submitted by C.p. Singleton
She wanders from tormented soul
To broken spirit, filling the air with
Her heart’s suffering. Feeding on
The pain they wear so tightly.
It began in a time when kilts were
Everyday wear and battle marked
A young man’s journey into the
Short-lived age of manhood.
She was in the service of the
Laird, nought but a milk-maid.
Her destiny to follow the faded
Line of serfdom until death’s
Gentle hand took her to The Lord.
Little did she know that it
Wasn’t only the blood of human-
Kind that flowed through her veins.
He was the Laird’s successor.
He was handsome and strong,
His eyes burned with passion and
Not a shard of brutality pierced.
His destiny was to be written
Into history’s heavy ledger.
His father prepared for his future
With deals and marriages arranged.
Then it was that the young laird,
Conor, arriving back from a
Boar hunt, passed the stricken
Maiden, struggling with milk
Pails that threatened to topple
Her delicate frame. Her eyes caught
His, both transfixed, he rushed to
Ease the burden on her slight
Shoulders. She saw, within the
Emeralds of his eyes, a heat
That no roaring fire could match.
He took the weight from her,
His trembling hands softly brushing
Her exposed shoulder. Love’s bolt
Shot from one to the other.
Leaving their minds to shatter
Like an ill-treated looking glass
Dropped from a great height on
To granite cobble-stones below.
That meeting changed the lovers:
Their roads once straight and
Certain became beset with blind
Junctions and twisted pathways.
Initially Conor followed court
Protocol and approached his
Father. His father, bound by ritual
And political tide pools, forbade
His son to see the common wench.
Love’s hand guided their tip-toed
Response. Under secret’s wing
They met: in glade and beneath
Night’s diamond strewn sky.
She felt safe and secure with
His thick arms around her.
He felt a home within her heart and
Her gentle embrace.
The days apart would pass slowly;
The nights together a blinding rush.
They began to want a stronger
Foundation on which their love’s
Fortress could be raised securely.
They spoke about secret marriage,
Of a love beyond Reproach.
Surely his father would then accept.
Fate and War are evil play mates.
Four days before the moon shined
Fully, its ancient, sorrowful face
Peered down at the massing of
Two clan armies. Conor was
Called to arms before a last
Embrace with his beloved maiden.
She watched, anxiously as her heart
Rode in front, Gallowglass flashing
In its giant scabbard. His fellow
Gallowglass knights marching proudly behind. The rain drenching Their long hair to their soaked
Woollen cloaks. Besides the fear
She felt freezing the marrow of her
Bones, she was also proud of him.
His nobility made her soul sing.
She prayed for his safe return.
He would ride back and take her by
Her tiny hands, lift her gently
On to his horse and away they
Would trot. The future would
See them married; their love
Sung around fires. Their children Would grow up with strong arms
Protecting and kind hands healing.
They would play in the fields in the warm summer sun and all huddle
Around the blazing fire during
The cold winter nights. Her heart
Filled with tears of joy, her
Mind was filled with his warm eyes,
Her blood flowed with the beat of his
Love. She ate it. She breathed it.
She lived, slept and dreamt it.
The mere thought of his hands
Touching her face quickened her breathing.
He carried her in his heart. The
Ride to the battle-field was full
Of song. The spirit-raising chorus
Driving away the rain. No
Talk of defeat, no mention of
Death: Victory was theirs alone.
His mind saw a quick battle and
A gallop back to his love’s warmth.
The drums of battle pounded on
That bright Irish morning.
The two clans faced one another, Masking terror with screams of anger.
Arms waved across the field;
Not one in peace. The drums’
Beat grew faster and louder.
Men from either side walked
Towards one another, weapons
Raised in murderous intent,
Red eyes of hatred glowing brightly.
The drumming quickened.
The men screamed at one another.
The deadly tempo rose again.
The two clans ran at each other.
The drum beat lost to footfall and
Clashing of steel. Screams of anger
Mixed with yells of pain. The
Living climbed over the dead,
Slipping on puddles that turned
To lakes of blood. The stench of
Death waltzed through the fight,
Sardonically laying his hands on
The shoulders of the lost.
Conor expertly swung his double-
Handed sword. Men, left and right,
Fell like drunken children in a tremor,
To the power of his swing.
Treachery shrugged nonchalantly;
Whispering words of brittle Sentiment into ears of a former
Friend. Seamus and Conor’s happy
Childhood stood for nothing as
Seamus rushed forward and ran
His sword through the back of his
Oldest and dearest friend.
Conor felt a hot bite in the centre
Of his spine. A bite that drained the
Strength from his once powerful
Limbs. He staggered forward,
Bouncing from one shocked comrade To the next. Hearing his name
Called not in triumph, but in fear
And concern. A wind rushed
Around the connection ‘tween
His body and his departing soul.
He felt it sever. Death escorted him
Off the battle field one last time.
The milk-maid left the parlour,
Pails across her shoulders, when
The image of Conor smashed into
Her mind. She saw his broken body.
She felt the blade enter his back.
The milk covered the stone floor
Like the blood of her dear-love. She
Screamed in pain. Other maids
Covered their ears. How could a
Girl of petite frame produce a
Screech that tore through their
Ears and crushed their brains?
They felt warm blood well between
Their grasping fingers. The scream
Reached a pitch that smashed
Pot plates and threatened to
Bring the castle walls down around
Their shocked and frightened ankles.
The occupants of the fortress fell
As one; blood bubbling from their
Dead ears and eyes. Not one
Soul survived her painful vent:
Human or animal, dead every one.
Her scream turned the skies black,
The trees shed their leaves, the
Rivers ran dry, the grass shrivelled
Brown and the maiden’s hair
Turned from black to white.
Her faery ancestry found life
In her human veins. The green
Of her friendly eyes turned milky-
White, her full lips drew thin.
She screamed a full day and a long
Dark night. Her misery powering
Her lungs. Then she stopped.
She had to find her love; her dearest
Conor. She had to hold him.
From that day until this, poor
Bean Sidhe, the first Banshee
Flits from house to cottage,
From castle to caravan, forever
Searching for her lost love.
Her scream can be heard when-
Ever Death’s hand has stolen life.
One day she will find solace in
The arms of her Conor. One
Day she will taste his lips. One
Day her torment will end.