The Celtic Witch


“Raili, you’d better come quick. The new nurse has just arrived and she’s  in floods of tears.”  One of my nursing staff quickly led me to the room in which she was waiting. Hurrying along after her, I wondered what on earth had gone wrong. She had joined our service as a new comer fresh out from Ireland.  I knocked on the door, waited a moment, then softly entered.  Introducing myself, I asked what was wrong. She took one look at me and burst into a fresh bout of wailing.

Between sobs, the story emerged. But not before I had wrapped my arms around her as she wailed, head hidden in the crook of my neck. Her lustrous waist length curly black hair tickled my nose. Fortunately I have an Irish neighbour so her accent was familiar. As was the strong Irish cussing. The stress of moving to a new country together with the unfamiliar, strange and  confusing processes of starting work in public mental health had proved to be overwhelming.  As I waited for the sobbing to subside, I noticed her diary sitting on the desk next to her handbag. The Celtic Witch’s Diary was proudly emblazoned on the front cover. Then and there I knew this newcomer and I would get along. Forever after  in my mind and heart she has been my Celtic Witch Friend.  She, on the other hand, was to later tell me that the first thing she recalls noticing were my multi-coloured flats as she wailed in my arms. Like me, she knew we would get along just fine.  We did.  A firm friendship evolved which lasts to this day even though she has long since returned to her homeland.

The last time she visited me at home before leaving was a time of celebrating friendship tinged with  sadness about the imminent departure.  Laughter filled the air together with  liberal libations toasting times together. She went for a wee stroll to the front garden. Gone longer than expected, I went in search of her. I found her standing in the corner covered in dead leaves, looking a little worse for wear.  What’s happened, I asked her.  She’d fallen into one of my rose bushes, she said, having lost her balance.  Apart from dented pride, wobbly legs and a few scratches nothing else seemed amiss.  Apart from needing a bit of straightening, the rose bush too had survived.  But forever after, the Pierre de Ronsard rosebush has borne her name – Michelle.  It’s bloom is as voluptuous and beautiful as her namesake.

After her departure I wrote this poem in honour of my Celtic Witch Friend:


With a

tear – sodden – thump

the Celtic Witch


into my life

Lilting- melodic – tones

Raven softly cascading

curling tendrils

flow freely down

and down

Returned to

the land of her heart now

Soul – to – Soul


distance – unencumbered

lasting memory deeply-rooted

In my garden

The Rose

Written in response to Circle of Friends Week 4 : Something Unique



©  Raili Tanska


16 thoughts on “The Celtic Witch

  1. We never know what wonder fill enter our lives, but what I do know is that it comes when we need it. What a lovely story, and friendship, and a beautiful way to pay homage to a dear friend. Thank you for sharing!

      1. i was homesick a few years ago and a lady such as your self extended her friendship to me and i will never forget her, your story is remarkably close to mine…..i am back home now but she made me feel welcome when i was new in a foreign land….

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