Melangell sails the Irish sea
to the wilds of Wales,
flees a marriage and seeks time
alone among a storm of hawthorn,
feeds on hazelnuts and dandelions,
gathers lady’s mantle each morning
to sip their dew, plunges her hands
in the river, freezing and fresh,
sleeps on moss in the cave-close stone,
delights at birdsong, seeks
the sacred in hunger and rain.
One warm day, her quiet disrupted,
hot breath of men and hounds
approach, jaws wide.
Teeth gleam, foam sputters,
tails swish as they scrabble
for a hare with brown legs
bounding, a great roar of wet fur
and whiskers –
the hare leaps
into the folds of Melangell’s cloak.
Defiant stands the saint,
draws a circle around herself.
Dogs and men can go no further.
Melangell strokes the hare’s ears,
soothes his clanging heart,
whispers “you are safe now”
as howls recede on the wind
and the valley becomes sanctuary.
You can still glimpse it
on sun-sparkled days when bluebells
sway and oak leaves rustle
and you take the soft hare
of your life into your arms,
whisper into those long ears
blessings all down her trembling
length and remind her that
she too no longer needs to run.