sequel to The Only Gift

IRON BEHIND THE VELVET

 

 

chapter 27 ~ After the Countless Songs

The mist broke,
and a moment showed

 

 

It was late – later than Will liked to be open on a Sunday night, even though other taverns up and down Ketonah Avenue would nearly challenge dawn. No Gardaí donned their banded, peaked hats at eleven o’clock, silent signal to patron and barkeep alike … am dúnta – closing time … but Donal’s adherence to the Old Ways was still his way, keeping Will’s conscience clearer, if his pocketbook lighter than his fellow publicans.  With parental admonitions, he’d sent the younger servers home at ten, each with a share of the tip jar and a bonus from the night’s take, and he’d closed the bar to drinks soon after, calling out, It’s time, now. Time for the drinking up. The tables were emptier … emptying … but some lingered, thirsty for one more tune, a last story … until the prescribed calling for a waltz, the busying to push the chairs to the wall in acquiescence to the evening’s needful end.

Tá damhsa ar siúl sa halla anoct,” someone called out. There’s a dance in the hall tonight. Damhsa an oíche ar shiúl.” Dance the night away.

The night and every nagging, Eimear inwardly petitioned. If only …

Behind the bar, Will stood polishing glass after glass, monitoring the thinning crowd. Seeming more the shepherd than the sentry, rangy and raw-boned, Will was whip-strong and stouthearted, ever alert. He’d be willing to offer … encouragement … with a persuasive hand on the upper arm, an authoritative step to the door, should someone refuse to cooperate with the rules of his temperate house. And he’d be quick to call a cab, would pay the fare himself, she knew, for anyone even a single sheet to the wind and without a sober companion, neighbor or newcomer.

Watching over us. 

As the evening lengthened, she’d felt a furrow – part wonder, part worry – deepen between her brows, but this last thought smoothed it away. Eimear slid from her private corner cocoon, stealing to Will’s side to join him in his task. 

“‘Twas a quality night,” she said. She plunged her arms into the deep vat of suds and swished her hands through, brought them up empty and dripping. “You’re finished!”

“Good timing. Impeccable, in fact.” Will ducked the flick of water droplets from her fingers and tossed her a fresh towel. “How do you do it, every time?”

“Ah, but you know the answer. Fey.” With an innocent shrug, Eimear mopped the countertop dry. “All us lassies are that.”

“Lassies, my … left foot. I know you, don’t be forgetting.” He turned to the tall copper espresso maker on the back bar and tamped a filter full with coarse grounds, fitted it in the basket. When he actioned the lever, steam jetted from the old machine at every joint.

“I can’t believe this thing still works,” Eimear said, her chin at Will’s shoulder. “Remember how scared we used to be of it? Its thunder and erruptions? We believed the clurichaun lived inside.1 It seems quieter now. Tamer.”

“Maybe it’s you and I who’re tamed, no longer believing such fancy.”

“And what are you telling Conor of the clurichaun and the merrows? Of the Lianhan Shee?

“I’ll be sending Conor to Rosie for his lessons soon enough,” Will said, straight-faced as he dragged a squat, thick-rimmed mug from a row of bright new china. He placed it on the shelf beneath the spout and the velvety aroma of chocolate, toast, and caramel suffused the air. “That’s the only one now,” he said, nesting the cup – a yellowed-ivory and mapped with fine, dark crazing – to its saucer. “I broke two last week.”

“Did you? That they lasted this long is a miracle.” Eimear traced the rim with the tips of her fingers. “We tried to lure birds from the eaves with these full of popcorn and dry beans. Remember? Donal had a fit when he went to brew a cup and found us with the entire set strewn along the sidewalk.”

Will laughed as he pulled a second shot. “Do you believe he trundled this thing and three dozen cups and saucers stacked in a hand wagon all the way from Arthur Avenue?”

In the snow and in his shirtsleeves. You can’t be leaving that part out. And won off a bet with Gennaro Carcetti, the terms grave-sworn to secrecy. Does someone from the family still come ‘round?”

“Yep,” Will said. “May 1st every year at 2:12 in the afternoon the door blows open, and I swear the old Bezzerra sputters in alarm whether it’s brewing or not. It’s Ghita who comes now, pretend-demanding it back, the whole kit, swearing her bisnonno commands her from the grave to defend his honor, leaving in a theatrical huff … empty-handed, of course. So, yeah, something happened.”

“”Tis best not to know exactly, don’t you think? Best to just accept it.”

 

The corner of the bar beckoned her, the burled wood shiny with wear and gently concave from the hours – the days, the years – of Donal’s leaning. She saw him there, his arms folded upon his broad chest, policing the room by way of the mirrored wall. She nestled into the impression, Will at her side, and sipped her coffee.

Someone called for The Galway Shawl, a waltz with words, and after a muted moment, the lone piper began the song of a long-ago courtship on the western shore, a story of remembrance … of what might have been. Martin would not be joining in – I’ll do the listening, he’d always say when someone would ask him to play along, cradling his flute in the crook of his arm, yielding the musical floor with a resolute nod. She could never name his accompanying expression as the ballad spooled out, but it was always the same – the tilted head, his focus on some middle distance as if he beheld something at once gladdening and fearsome – and if it were a memory he cherished or the anticipation of a moment to come, she would never ask. 

The melody changed – The Rose of Aranmore – and he took up his flute again, his foot keeping slow but sweet time. 

Eimear closed her eyes, breathed in and out. Return. A time-worn path through fragrant flowers – sheeps-bit and sea campion, mountain reed and ragged-robin. The sharp sea spray at cliff’s edge, the stiff-winged fulmaire a-glide in the spiraling updrafts, a watchful bob of dark-eyed seals not far from shore … A wisp of vision, a newness … Catherine, waiting for her … a smile of both welcome and uncertainty on her face … at a door in a lichened wall, a portal it seemed … between two worlds.

The Ceili Waltz was soon next, The Marino to quickly follow, drifting into Josefin’s. As the sweet refrain died away, Martin began the last tune, the unarguable last, his low flute calling out The Mist-Covered Mountain. Dancing couples broke apart with acquiescing smiles, with the trailing touch of fingertips. The stutter of chairs, the tumble of voices, and finally the old song … stilled.

Will locked the door on the heels of the laggard customers and again after the few loitering musicians. Only Martin remained at the far table where he had his flute laid out in parts, a stark white cloth at one hand, a half-finished Guinness at the other. In the new quiet, Eimear heard a faint hum of melody from his corner, and in the lamplight, saw him look up from his work and smile as if in greeting. She followed his gaze across the room where it seemed to rest on an empty chair turned out from a littered table.

“Too much,” Will said, squinting when he switched on the bright overhead panels. When he checked his watch, he shuddered. “And too late.” He dimmed the bulbs to half-power.

“I’ll stay and help you tidy up.” Eimear pushed away from her niche.

“Noooo.” Will shook his head. “I’m leaving the whole mess for tomorrow. Mondays we’re closed, remember?”

“Donal is keening from the grand beyond at the very thought.”

“Oh, I hear him.” He fit his thumb to the hollow of the worn Cash button, pressed hard. Its latch disengaged, the register drawer groaned and rumbled out, clanging to a quivery stop.

“That could be refurbished, you know. They’d have it back to you all smooth-working and shiny,” Eimear said. “Or you might even get a new one. They sell them, just up the street in fact.”

Without looking up, Will nodded. “Right, and then I would be hearing Donal’s voice, and Ma’s and Da’s as well, on and on.” He brought calculator from an undershelf. “Pretty song Martin’s going on with. Bridget O’Malley?”

Tis. Terribly sad, but you’d never know from the looks of him, that smile on his face.” ‘Twas one Mom would sing. She rinsed her cup, sponged it clean, and set it beside the gleaming urn where it was reflected in rippling, coppery waves. The last of its kind, she thought, struck with an incongruous shiver. The tunic in Catherine’s hands, her stammering gasp at the sculpture’s unveiling ... She blinked away a flash of undulant, rose-colored light.

 

“Eimear …” Will’s voice, his hand on her arm, startled her. “I’ve watched you. Half the night you stared fixed on some peculiar landscape … like Martin’s doing just now … and the rest of the time …” A flush rose from his collar, his storm of freckles all but disappearing in it. “Is it Flynn?”

She looked away … just … but Will’s flood of words brought her back.

“He was in Friday. Did you know? Sat by himself at the end of the bar as sour as raw rhubarb. Hardly a word for anybody until he snapped at Siobhan and made her cry. And at your party, he was … ” Will searched his empty hands. “I saw the photograph in the newspaper – the kids at his precinct house. That brought it all back, huh?”

It … suddenly a huge, frightening word. The darkness, the exposure … “It’s never left him, Will. He feels it’s winning. I’m afraid. ” A mournful sound slipped out even as she bit down hard at her lip. “And now … ”

“Now what, Eimear.

No! Don’t say it. Don’t say it out loud and it won’t be true. Nothing will happen. Flynn will never know. Say nothing. Nothing. Desperate, she scrabbled for the solace of her visions – the rock-lined path, a door in the wall …

“Tell me.”

She shook her head; the dream world fragmented and fell away. “‘Tis nothing, Will. I’m just … worried for him.” She reached for a towel and folded it over and over again, square and neat. “I should get Martin home. He’s in his cups a bit, I’m thinking. And you want to be going along. ‘Tis late. You said so yourself.”

 

* * *

A part of him recognized the corridor, registered, as he rushed past, the wide-eyed alarm of the sated, sleepy sentry. He did not turn his head, offered no glance of reassurance, knew without seeing the lookout would scuttle on her hands and knees to the pipe and tap a frantic query. Vincent. Running. What?

He cast himself into the maze, shoulders barking against the tunnel wall, his chest tight … burning. His legs … burning. Fisted hands, a stinging in his palms. A coppery scent, a bitten tongue silences, expectations, every private sadness.

Anger’s my meat; I sup upon myself, and so shall starve with feeding …2

Out 

Out … the stone circle … out … a leaping stride. Steep. Push.

OutWhere are we? Somewhere there’s an elevated train.

a crossroads looming …

Promise me, Vincent, your voice …

Prodding. Demanding. Choose.

Regret this for you as well …

I would the gods had nothing else to do but to confirm my curses … 3

Clattering, thundering, the power, the speed … the habit of my defiance

Just beneath the surface of his consciousness … a voice, a sober ripple. Breath on his skin. But his fingers to the spot, he found only sweat-tangled hair and tendons like bowstrings. Illusion. Dream. Want.  

OutTo her balcony. To her bed. 

Mine.

Hurry …  

Mine … mine for everything … mine …

The firmament rumbles

Faster than fairies, faster than witches, bridges and houses, hedges and ditches and charging along …

The carriage comes

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles all by himself …4

Listen … Count … Prepare to move …

Stop

A glitter of sound, a whisper of light. A touch. Stop

She sleeps. She … sleeps. Only the wind …

Ready … ready for the jump … 

Stop

… old, too old for that … I need you, careful … 

Ready …

Stop. Wait. Instead …

Instead, a turn … instead, a climb … instead a race, but …

Out

Then through the slivered opening, then the narrow passage … 

Out

… the strongest, the truest. Yours, promise me, Vincent …

… the days, the years together. How …

Out … 

My decisions, mine … 

Out

… not without sacrifice. Promise me, sacrifice …

… hold back … you hold back. Always …

Out

Bars. The lever where is it? Groping. Too dark. Where is it, where IS it? Darkness … hollows of rock, scrabbling, the pin in his hand. PushNO! Pull … now push ... 

Now through

Bars. Again … bars. Always barsa thousand bars, and behind the bars, no world5

In his hands … bars … rattling, quivering in his grip. Gritted, cold iron. Find the twist, the twist, where … WHERE IS IT. 

Out!

Charging the steps … the lock beneath his feet, impotent, broken, booted to a corner. The cross bar, wrapped in chain … loose … pull it, pull it LOOSE, damn the clatter, the noise, so be it … 

I am HERE. I EXIST. I WANT.

A golden dream, sunlight in her hair … blinding, the bright gold heat … my shadow, long on the ground. Mine … joining hers. Her arms outstretched. Something … something for me

A hand on his, his guide, her hand, small, small … not even the rain.

Yours for everything. 

Tested in fire … an arc, a flare of rose-gold and green light, the blue-silver chord … 

For you … ready, ready for you. I am …

Only you. I want …

Yours for everything.

I want … always. I want … everything.

The solid planks of the door … kind to the rough tide of his breath, to his smarting palms, the grain smooth to his cheek. Weary, sleepless, bruised and worn. Seeking rest, oh, seeking rest …6  The tensioned grip easing at the back of his skull …

… his voice, his own … guttural, dry, uneven … water from her palms … sweet. 

Quiet … quiet now. I’m here.

Eyes closed, he fingered the heavy cinching chain, working it silently from the barrier link by link until it pooled at his feet …

I am …

… grappled the bar long-fixed and rusted in the brackets … 

Not all desperate and dark … not all, I promise you. You are …

Mine … mine all along, my own … You are …

A man. A man who chooses.

 

A forearm braced on the jamb, he gripped the twisted iron ring, drew back. The latch released with a faint click. 

Interim. And at that aperture, attend.

Alone.

Yielding to his grip, the door sighed inward.

An archway, he saw, his eye to the inched gap. The canopy cast the shelter in comfortable shadow and on its floor, an arrow of moonlight silvered a mosaic of stones – a Celtic knot, endless, eternal – two intertwined hearts blood-red amidst the grey. A scent of hay and apples purled at the ground and from above came the croon of thrush and sleepy sparrow, the mingled melody of breeze and city stirrings.   

Emancipation.

He stepped outside.

* * *

“I have my car, Martin, and but a few blocks away. Let me drive you.” Eimear fastened the clasp of the flute’s case and took a coaxing step backward. “You’ve closed the place down. Will wants to go home.”

“Now, now, it’s a lovely night. I’ll walk myself back.”

Martin pushed his chair away from the table and stood, both hands gripping the rolled edge. After a steadying moment, he gave the varnished top a two-handed pat and grinned at something – someone – somewhere over her shoulder … Will, she discovered, pointing at the old round clock on the wall. In an encore performance of his fifth-grade role as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, he swung his arm dramatically toward the door. He smiled at her and the corners of his eyes wrinkled up, yet she saw more concern than good-humor in his expression.  She squared herself between the two men. 

“You’ll not,” she stated.

“A bossy thing you are,” Martin decreed, scowling, but he plucked his sweater from a peg on the wall and thrust in his arms. Fussed with the buttons.

Eimear stalled his attempt and reversed his mismatched work. She evened the hems, started again, smoothing the collar when she reached the top of the button band. Martin submitted but fidgeted, a liveliness in him the full night of songs had not tapped out. 

“Just how much have you had tonight, Martin? You’ve a daily allotment and I’m thinking tomorrow’s is well borrowed-from.”

“’T’will even up by end of then,” he countered, gazing with fondness at the inch of Guinness left in his glass.

“Oh, no. You’re all done.” Eimear tugged him a few steps along the floor. “Maybe we will take a walk up and back a ways before we find the car. I’m sure the night air would do you good.” She slipped the strap of his concertina bag over his shoulder, pressed his flute to his chest. “Go.”

“Eim …” Will had bowed as they passed but he’d followed her out to the street, and when she turned, he was there. He gripped her shoulders with both hands, and from his height, dropped a kiss to her hair. “Double W,” he whispered. Their childhood promise each to the other, made first on the floor at Donal’s feet. Whatever, whenever

 

They ambled three shops up, almost to the corner, Will loitering in the pub’s niched entry. She waved him inside to no avail. He pointed again – and she had to hurry after Martin who’d stepped off the curb between two parked cars on a purposeful path to the still-open Rambling House. “This way,” she said, grabbing his elbow, steering him back to the sidewalk.

“All right, right you are, righty-o. Lead on, dear one.”

“Apparently I must. Honestly, you’re like a child who refuses his bed on Christmas Eve. Are you not exhausted?” He didn’t answer, at least not in words, but started in with what she called his marching music, his strange half-song, half-rhythmed clicks, his own sean nós language.The beat of a different drummer. But at least they were moving forward and in tandem.

“Here. Here, Martin! Now scoot in. Ow, watch your head.”

Martin mumbled under his breath. “… máthair chearc.”

“What’s that?”

“Nothing, love, nothing at all. Home we go.”

* * *

Just last night ...

Just last night, he’d stood transfixed behind the closed door, had heard the triumphant laughter of children up deliciously late, the murmur of lovers passing by. Music, much and beautiful. Transporting. Spirited.

And Catherine’s voice.

He’d leaned pleading to the splintery slats – I’m here – and Martin had spoken of the twin flame, the reunited single soul. Is it like that for you, Catherine?

In the dark of the landing, he’d held out his hands, turned them palms up in wait of her answer, and with it, with her attestation, an energy gathered beneath his ribs both potent and zealous, exhilaration and trepidation in intoxicating potion, honeyed tonic on his tongue. Beyond hope. Beyond knowledge. Beyond even love. Fear and confusion crowded out by courage, by clarity. Belief. Commitment … its reward invitation through unexpected doorways to a new life.

In the arched passage now … at the edge of its obscuring …

The neighboring house – Eimear’s house, Eimear’s and Flynn’s – was dark upstairs and down save for a soft glow in the kitchen. On the sill in the uncurtained window, a kitten sat in a glance of moonlight, as still as a statue, her eyes closed in a satisfied, standing sleep. Waiting … for the start of a new day perhaps … perhaps for the glimpse of some creature loose in the night garden.

A pivot … of foot, of heedfulness … Alone, alone still … and two strides …

High stone walls enclosed the churchyard; even taller trees at the perimeter, within and without, their spring blossoms night-paled. A walkway edged one side of the wall – the wall he’d walked within – low-roofed, with wide-spaced pillars and cusped openings … a safe place, a thronging of shadows.8  In the center of the flowered garden, a curving, trimmed hedge embraced a wide, flat stone, a stone that glittered with reflected light. A base, beckoning – a place prepared.

Perfect white marble with whiter veins. You must see it. You must … 

Across the enclosure, the rectory. Martin’s home. Through one window a satined glow evidenced a lamp left on in an interior room. Chair-side, perhaps at a desk in a library. He tried to imagine its landscape. An orderly tangle, like Father’s? Or spare, a single photograph of Lily in the topmost drawer? 

In the street, a car slowed but passed without stopping. 

His boots made no sound on the stone path. The hedge was fragrant under the brush of his hand, the leaves black-green and silver. Its trimmed branches fluttered with moths. He turned in a slow circle … pushed back his hood.

One question for you. Will you come back?

He had … and he was glad of it.

* * *

 

“I quite like your new friend,” Martin offered. “Catherine. Caitríona. A lovely name, a lovely girl, though touched with mystery, she is. The fire that stirs about her and all that.” 9

“Yes. There’s some of that,” Eimear acceded. You know him. ‘Twas recognition. “I like her too, very much.”

“She’ll be coming for the installation next Saturday, she said. Meaning Rosie’s approved.”

The secret sits in the middle.10 “She has.”

“And will she be bringing her young man?”

“She told you about him?” Eimear flinched at the raw surprise in her tone – I have to do better than that – and felt Martin’s probing, sober glance. Hoping it cover enough, she flicked on a blinker and slowed, checking left, the rearview mirror, the side mirror and left again, grateful for the one-way streets of her neighborhood that let her, for this moment, sidestep Martin’s scrutiny.

Hmmmmmm,” he longly replied before turning back to the window he’d cracked. “She offered little, but enough. She’s like you with Flynn. A twin fla–” The car lurched … a rear tire dragged and thumped. “Ah, no. You’ll need to stop. Pull in here at McGinnis’s and we’ll hop out for a look.”

 

Eimear leaned against the fender. It’s just a blown tire. Don’t look over your shoulder. Don’t. Defiance lifted her chin. “Of course, a flat, and I’ve a trunk packed with laundry.”

“A nail perhaps, or broken glass,” Martin said from his crouch at the curb. “We’ll just leave a note. I’ll call over to Harold’s garage first thing and he’ll have you fixed up by lunchtime. Ach, now … don’t argue.” He rose and dusted his hands.”’Tis my day off and yours to work. You’ll let me help you, yes?” He fished a small notebook from an inside pocket, the notebook he always carried, this one with a glittery pony on its cover – bright pink even in the yellow sodium lamplight and with a rainbow mane, and she remembered how he used or wore or ate whatever gifts she and Rosie or other parish children had offered over the years, no matter the size or color or toothsomeness. He scribbled a few words and ripped the page away, tucked it under the wiper blade. “Let me get my cases and we’re off.”

“You’ll be walking home after all,” Eimear said, taking the flute in one hand and Martin’s arm with the other.

“And ‘tis a fine night for walking with my best girl, plus it’s barely another two blocks. Your washer’s on the blink again, I take it?”

Eimear nodded, listening for following footsteps, all the while counseling herself to watch straight ahead, to show no concern whatsoever, but when they rounded the last corner, her step faltered. Her driveway was empty. “Flynn should be home,” she couldn’t help saying.

Sour as rhubarb. Snapped at Siobhan. Where is he?

“You’re worried for him,” Martin probed.  

“Yes.”

“And there’s something more.”

“Sort of.”  Two somethings more … one worrisome, the other wondrous.

“You’ll not be telling me tonight though, will you.”

“No.” I can’t explain. For now … maybe not ever.

“Why you’re choosing this evening to take up a silent order, I’ll never understand. You’re forever my chatterbox.”

“Rosie chatters. You’re fishing, thinking that’s a compliment. We’ll talk tomorrow.” He patted her hand, accepting her promise, but she stole a look at the side of his face and saw his downturned mouth. “Don’t fret so. It’s not all baleful and dire.” They climbed the steps to her front door arm in arm. “Flynn will be fine.” He must be.

“Of course he will. Well, here we are. I’ll see you in and through and go right out the back. Don’t be starting with the offers of tea or coffee. Or cookies.” He quieted as she worked the locks. “Eimear,” he began, the teasing in his voice gone a bit wobbly. “You’d tell me if you thought I was truly daft, wouldn’t you?”

“Why do you ask now?” She pushed the door open. The hinges newly oiled for the party no longer creaked. The latch snicked shut; the tumblers fell into place with the twist of the bolt. A dial on the wall switched on a trio of ambler-glassed sconces.

“You know I speak with your mother …”

“I do know that. You keep her with us that way, Martin.” The kitten loped down the hallway, her purr loud in greeting. “Hi, little Mab.” Eimear knelt to scoop her up. “What is it?” she asked him as they scuffed along. The kitten’s ears flicked beneath her breath. “You had the look on your face all evening.”

The look … yes. My standing at the gate look, as you’ve described it more than once, where I’m sure of nothing and the world seems huge with possibility. Where dreams seem real and reality …” They stood in the soft light of the kitchen, the porch door open to the garden. He brushed the kitten’s whiskers, then Eimear’s cheek. “Eh, ‘tis the Guinness still talking. Until tomorrow, love. Don’t worry about your car, but … umm … tell Flynn I need to see him, won’t you?”

If he’ll hear me. If he comes home. “I will. Goodnight now.”

 

* * *

 

Called by the sweet scent, he explored the beds until at last he determined the source. Alyssum. Lobularia, he recalled, his nose to an inflorescence of tiny buds. Pink and white, he could just discern. Samantha had recently discovered the art of pressed flowers and he wondered how he might prevent the cluster’s wilting until, below, he could preserve it for her between the pages of his book. The garden was intricate and busy, the volumes of botanical drawings on Father’s shelves alive before him. He let himself be lost … in the textures, the perfumes, in the imagined sunlit colors …

He froze. 

Too late. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Martin stood for a long moment in contemplation of the entwined hearts on the floor of the archway, the stones he’d had Rosie cut and precisely place. Months ago, he’d have knelt at the spot, easily to his knees, as easily up. He could still, he supposed.

Lily … cuisle mo chroí. One more song, perhaps. For you, my love …

Then … Odd, that shadow.

His gaze traveled upward. 

He let the strap slip from his shoulder and set both cases on the ground. He reached out … pushed at the ever-fixéd gate, now ajar. The door swung wide. Cool mineral air billowed out … and the essence of dreams.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 “A man is a very small thing, and the night is very large and full of wonders.”  11

Martin whispered Lord Dunsany’s words, but in the dark far corner of the ambulatory where he stood, they were clear to his keen ears. 

“Vincent? Are you …”

He stepped from his niche of retreat, still in cloaking shadow, but closer … closer

I am. I’m here.

Church ambulatory at night

_______________

Chapter title: Walt Whitman. The Unexpress’d. Leaves of Grass. Goodbye My Fancy. 1855.

Opening quotation: Stephen Vincent Benet. Three Days’ Ride. 1937.


1. Clurichaun: a surly, drunken ‘night’ leprechaun, who hides inside a cask or wine barrel.

2. William Shakespeare. Coriolanus. Act IV, scene II. 1623.

3. Ibid.

4. Robert Louis Stevenson. From a Railway Carriage.

5. Rainer Maria Rilke. The Panther. 1907.

6. Stephen Vincent Benet. Three Days’ Ride. 1937.

7. sean nós singing: Irish for “old style” – a highly ornamented style of solo, unaccompanied Irish singing.

8. Amy Lowell. The Trumpet-Vine Arbour, #1777.

9. William Butler Yeats. The Folly of Being Comforted. 1922.

10. Robert Frost. The Secret Sits.

11. Edward John Moreton Plunkett, Lord Dunsany. The Book of Wonder. 1918.

 

2 Comments

  1. AAaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh! The long out-Out-OUT! sequence at last, beginning with:

    “Anger’s my meat; I sup upon myself, and so shall starve with feeding …2

    Out …

    Out … the stone circle … out … a leaping stride. Steep. Push.

    Out … Where are we? Somewhere there’s an elevated train.

    a crossroads looming …

    Promise me, Vincent, your voice …

    Prodding. Demanding. Choose.

    Regret this for you as well …

    I would the gods had nothing else to do but to confirm my curses … 3

    Clattering, thundering, the power, the speed … the habit of my defiance

    Out … To her balcony. To her bed.

    Mine.

    Hurry …

    Mine … mine for everything … mine …

    The firmament rumbles

    Faster than fairies, faster than witches, bridges and houses, hedges and ditches and charging along …

    Instead, a turn … instead, a climb … instead a race, but …

    Out …

    Then through the slivered opening, then the narrow passage …

    Out …

    … the strongest, the truest. Yours, promise me, Vincent …

    … the days, the years together. How …

    Out …

    My decisions, mine …

    Out

    … not without sacrifice. Promise me, sacrifice …

    … hold back … you hold back. Always …

    Out

    Bars. The lever … where is it? Groping. Too dark. Where is it, where IS it? Darkness … hollows of rock, scrabbling, the pin in his hand. Push … NO! Pull … now push …

    Now through …

    Bars. Again … bars. Always bars … a thousand bars, and behind the bars, no world …5

    In his hands … bars … rattling, quivering in his grip. Gritted, cold iron. Find the twist, the twist, where … WHERE IS IT.

    Out!

    Charging the steps … the lock beneath his feet, impotent, broken, booted to a corner. The cross bar, wrapped in chain … loose … pull it, pull it LOOSE, damn the clatter, the noise, so be it …

    I am HERE. I EXIST. I WANT.

    A golden dream, sunlight in her hair … blinding, the bright gold heat … my shadow, long on the ground. Mine … joining hers. Her arms outstretched. Something … something for me

    I want … always. I want … everything.

    Not all desperate and dark … not all, I promise you. You are …

    Mine … mine all along, my own … You are …

    A man. A man who chooses.

    A forearm braced on the jamb, he gripped the twisted iron ring, drew back. The latch released with a faint click.

    Interim. And at that aperture, attend.

    Alone.

    Yielding to his grip, the door sighed inward.

    An archway, he saw, his eye to the inched gap. The canopy cast the shelter in comfortable shadow and on its floor, an arrow of moonlight silvered a mosaic of stones – a Celtic knot, endless, eternal – two intertwined hearts blood-red amidst the grey. A scent of hay and apples purled at the ground and from above came the croon of thrush and sleepy sparrow, the mingled melody of breeze and city stirrings.

    Emancipation.

    He stepped outside.”

    AAAAAaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh! HE STEPPED OUTSIDE!!!!!!!!! Oh my God, you have us all in the palm of your hand, breathless and bruised and practically screaming against all the challenges, all the barriers, all the incessant demands, all the expectations, all the disappointments, all the interminably set-aside desires.

    How do you DO this?

    And then to end this chapter with Vincent nearly face-to-face with Martin, saying, “I am. I’m here.”

    A statement to the entire world, both Above and Below. I’m here! I exist! I have my own wants and needs and desires! For ONCE in my LIFE, I proclaim my own existence!

    This is just glorious, glorious writing! I have been WAITING for the return of this magnificent chapter, knowing full well that even MORE goodness is still to come.

    HUGS,

    Lindariel/Karen

    Reply
    • Karen, you always, always make me feel happy to be working on this story! Thank you again for reading. You are too kind and so generous and you have made my day. It makes SUCH a difference knowing you’ve visited. Hugs, hugs!

      C

      Reply

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