Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A far bit east of Doonbeg


If you walk northeast a bit, maybe three miles, along the shallow dip that had surely been a carriageway back before the famine, there’s a whole lost village there, just stone walls and old hearths stained black by fires gone so long, and the remnants of walls that kept us all hungry no matter how hard we might work. And I walk there with the beagle bouncing alongside me, through misty rain, and under scurrying clouds, and in bright August sunshine, which is congenial enough to shine on us as we lie on the warm stones and breakfast on cheese and bangers left from last night.

The dog tramples the tall turf, turning seven circles before settling. I stretch and open one of the books in my pack. “I could risk blasphemy, Consecrate the cauldron bog, Our holy ground and pray, Him to make germinate,” and let myself slip out of consciousness and back across the years.

Broccan had lent the cottage to me. “The only thatchroofed satellite wireless home in the west of the country,” he told me. “The peat is piled under the eaves, sit in the smoke and write.” He had gone off to America for months, six at least, and I had come, of course, of course. The local was far enough to burn off most of the Guinness weight by the time I could get back. The air was filled with pre-industrial age scents. The colors of the stones of the place and the light slap of rain on the roof softened me. The way the light fell through the ancient glass allowed my vision to float. And the chapters poured into the laptop and slid through the air to the router and crossed the wire to the dish hidden behind the barn, and rushed via spacecraft to the editor. So I could live and write in a timeless suspension in which all history had merged.

I rouse the dog. She is older and likes to sleep but still runs like a puppy. We stroll back, following the carriageway abandoned a hundred and seventy years ago as everyone fled to America and the fortunes of the new world. Most got comfortable there. The crowds, the hustle, the drive, the desires. But not me. So I have come back the other way.

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copyright 2006 by Ira Socol
poetry: Seamus Heaney - The Tollund Man

3 comments:

Brenda said...

I've read this out loud, and there isn't any bit I don't like. It flows beautifully, even in the parts where it's meant to be crunched up and difficult, like the migrations Westward. The description of the internet connection in this rustic scene, like a thread of fire travelling on a cord, really worked well to help that zig zagging from history to personal memory to the present and back again that you do so well. Oh, for a writer's cottage like that! I wonder if it's too late to go out and get bangers and Guinness-?

narrator said...

Brenda: This late, we'll be stuck eating curry fries from a chip shop while taking the bus home... not that there's anything wrong with that.

Brenda said...

:)