Monday, December 31, 2012

Singular ll

Last year, I posted a piece called Singular, (Dec 12, 2011) in which I mention Margaret, one of the "different" people. This is a companion piece. The setting is Ireland.


 Margaret wakes to silence,
no drips through the thatch.
From a pile on the floor she layers on clothes,
laces her boots with dirty fingers
and is out the door.

North or south?
She chooses Roscommon,
avoids the new highway,
stomps across lumpy fields to the lanes that know her.
Sheep look up, but only for a moment,
cows pay her no mind.
Her pace is steady, her gaze straight on.
Wild flowers, berries and burrs pass unnoticed.

By the time she gets to Biddy's
a dim sun is high in the sky.
She slaps her hands against her thighs.  No one comes.
At Delia Fallon's, she's given tea with bread and jam.
She's given bacon for her pocket and a chat,
though Delia knows Margaret rarely speaks.
"Stay awhile," Delia urges when the sky sends down a lashing.
Margaret tightens the rope around her waist, walks out.

At Four Corners, she sits in a drizzle by the side of the road
and knocks together the toes of her boots.
Today, It's Johnny Dole's truck that stops.
"Get in," he says with a thumbs up. She climbs into the high seat.
"No more trouble than a bale of hay," Johnny says and she giggles.
"How goes your day?" he asks, as if her days were ever different.
He has always known Margaret Who Walks the Roads.
Long ago his mother told him, "There's no harm in her and she likes to walk."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Christmas Walk

None of my favorite Christmas memories involves a gift, eggnog, home-made cookies, a shiny, clean house or a credit card deduction. They are moments that stand out because of beauty or closeness.  They could not be bought, staged or anticipated.

It's Christmas Eve and I am with my two sisters going to midnight mass at a church in downtown Cleveland.  It's crowded and we have to sit in the narrow choir loft with a dozen other people.  I'm excited to be out so late.  I love the greenery draped over the pews and the mixed scent of perfume and candles and incense.  I'm also growing at a fast pace ( by the end of the year, I will have gone from a short girl to the second tallest in my class) Sitting between my sisters is agony for me and annoying to them.  They might as well have put a pony in that pew.  No matter how often they nudge me, my legs, entirely on their own, jump and kick.  I try, but cannot sit lady-like as they do.  Between kicks, I nod off. It's late and the church is too warm and I'm wearing a second-hand, wool coat and I'm allergic to wool.  At last, the mass is over. I feel relief but also regret at leaving the lovely scene.

Outside, we link arms for the long walk home.  Snow is falling, there is no wind and no cars are on the road.  We don't talk but we share the experience.  I feel special to be part of this trio; my beautiful, smart sisters and I.  At home there will be neither presents nor a big Christmas dinner; such things are beyond our means.  But the magic and comedy of that night and the love we felt for each other and our family is a gift that has lasted for years.  And ... a Christmas touchstone ... I like recalling that growing girl who had no sense of future and lived entirely in the moment.