#writephoto flash fiction: Memorial

For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt.


They dug a grave, long and deep and shored it up with smooth flat stones. They laid a pavement carved with eternal signs, where feet could tread in the cool dark silence of her tomb. They placed her beneath the chamber at the end and a flat stone over her. Visitors often came to the chamber, to leave offerings of red berries, the first snowdrops, or a cup of ewe’s milk. They brought ploughshares and blades for her to bless, and new cooking pots in the hope they would always be filled.

Feet trod and wore the pavement smooth. Hands touched the smooth stone walls as they made their way through the dark and wore a gentle groove to guide those who came after. Swans came and nested on the shore of the lake below the grave and the people were glad that Brigid’s birds had not forsaken her.

Then the monks came and drove the people away. They had them close the passage and forbade them to go near with stories of devils and demons. But the common folk raised a stone where the entrance to the tomb lay hidden, and on it they carved three swans, her bird, her number, her incarnations. The monks frowned, but the stone had put down deep roots and could not be moved.

Not Brigid’s trinity, the monks said and gave another explanation with doves and fathers and sons. The offerings continued, and a new legend evolved, with a mild-mannered saintly virgin and her good works. Over the generations, the people acquiesced and the memories of the fiery goddess with the tools of a smith and the art of healing in her hands, the cycle of life and renewal beneath the tread of her feet were replaced by a more conventional, more docile figure.

Yet within the dark passages beneath the earth, in the springs, and in the stones that bear her mark, Brigid lives on, and one day, the people will remember her and the broken earth will be healed.