Write and walk

Errislannan near Clifden, Co Galway

Photo credit: kevin.balanda)


Today I ‘crook my knees / into a zed beneath the trees’ (Poem, Alice Oswald) and take a bus to a little town, just to ‘walk’. The landscape is ‘craggy’, which comes from a brochure on tracing your ancestry, and means the soil on the mountains worn down to rock, and everywhere else green with grass, and the cragginess— brokenness—of earth filled with water, of conifers crowded onto an islet.

When I get to the little town, it’s almost raining, the souvenir shops are grey. On the road out-of-town a middle-aged couple are walking in gumboots, the woman in a soft, purple skirt, the man carrying a candy striped umbrella. The hedgerow is thick with bracken fern, ivy, brambles and their berries, colour of old blood, orange clusters of flowers and thin leaves, fuchsias, brick-red and pink, grasses. The water is almost white with light, later, what they call cornflower blue as I’m clambering over stiles. Every single person in the hostel lounge is looking at their computer or tablet.

Previously, the gardens are deep green, the bay flat, bruised. I looked out the window and thought, here? But it will be the same anywhere. We were in a museum of social history, in a section about dance halls. There were some grainy images of a packed dance floor, couples, from above, inter-cut with one couple, now older, elegantly dancing together in colour in an empty hall, and I thought, they were young once. For a moment the present and future came together, and indeed I was there when I was young, in the museum. Flame coloured flowers in the downtown.

A friend of a friend decided to do the things they are good at, for their happiness. From the big archway of the road over the road, drops of water falling into the new sunlight. Plain is beautiful. I found a book on Buddhism, What The Buddha Taught, by Walpola Rahula: Do not think lightly of good saying; ‘It will not come to me’. Even as a water pot is filled by the falling of drops, so the wise man, gathering it drop by drop, fills himself with good. Which doesn’t mean much to me right now.


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