Kinsallagh Upper

Another early work. This one came to mind all of a piece, and I just had to get it down on the keyboard before the bell rang. Kathy has this wonderful little brass zen bowl that she rings at ten minutes to, and then a gently spoken “Come back, come back.” The re-entry to the group after zoning out with writing can be abrupt, or it can be gentle. I never know ahead of time, just as I never know where the prompt will take me.

The prompt: Pick a word from a list : “fenn”

It was like coming home to a place he’d never been before. The green was so deep he could feel it. As he stepped down off the lorry and into the square, a villager passed and smiled, acknowledging him. “I guess I’ve done the right thing” he said to himself. Pack on back, Michael turned and walked out of town. His only guidepost was the peak off to the south, glaring in the rare sunlight. The sea on his right, he hiked along for much of the morning. A mob of slaneys passed, boots mucked from cutting peat up on the fenn. They were all strapping lads, and Michael had dreams of emulating them in future days. The peat bogs were the Golds Gym of western Ireland, make no mistake of it.

It was his Dad’s land, bought unseen from an ad in the back of the Irish Times. Michael had never set eyes on it, nor had he wished to before. Now, it was a pilgrimage. He turned away from the water, heading inland and up, climbing the shoulder of the big mountain. The road was rough but fair. It wound its way through the fields of grass and sheep, always going up. As he walked, Michael reviewed a lifetime of love, hate, fear and desire. You can’t hate someone forever and stay a man. Especially if it was someone as close as your dad.

Pretty soon the tears started, and his shoulders fell just a bit. What was he doing here, so far from home and all alone? The sibs didn’t understand it. “Move on” they said. “Live your life, not his.” Before noon, he turned onto the gravel path. A half mile now, and it would all be over. Behind him, a pilgrim crawled up the dusty stone road on her knees, heading for the summit to pray at the cross. They all did it here, the old hags, with their god-fearing ways, clutching a
cross to their withered breasts and mumbling the rosary and stations of the cross. What good does it do ya?

The path ended at an open field, a famine cottage off to the side and water seemingly everywhere. It was Michael’s now. The old man was gone. The mountain gave him strength, and he reached into his pack and drew out the urn. Wrestling the top off, he looked into it, seeing a lifetime of fear and pain, lies, betrayal. Lifting it over his head, the wind to his back and the sacred mountain over his shoulder, he inhaled, exhaled, and fertilized the land with all that was left of his father. The sun shone, the wind blew, and Michael was home.

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