Everything

You may recall

in years to come

this feeling, this place –

home, yes,

(we all think of home)

but I mean home right now,

today;

at some vague, future time

something like these sweet smells,

brandy-soaked fruit (Christmas cakes)

and the lingering memory of breakfast’s bacon,

might bring you back to now,

you might hear the comforting melancholy

of winter jazz playing quietly on a radio,

and recall the way the winter sun infused everything

as it slanted through a filter of snow-clouds and bare branches,

you might feel the deep warmth of home,

of us, here, together.

*

Oh, right now

I know it’s just another day

a regular, lazy Sunday

a day of idle movies

of someone somewhere cooking –

peripheral,

hardly worth noting.

*

But if ever you ask me then

whether I remember now,

I will smile slightly and say

I remember, and

it was everything.

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Autumn commute (but also, Ireland II.)

Even at this early hour, the deep, jewel-blue of evening is already fading to night’s darker hues beyond the buildings. Still in the city’s small heart, though, the sky glows and refracts between windows, brightened by the lights from inside, the street-lamps outside.

There is a quickening, an energy as commuters move away from the centre, a flow that pulls us all along for a block or two until the shift to calm that comes with the transition to neighbourhoods.

Then it is dark, night descends quickly, a blanket sprinkled with the twinkling of porch lights. The cold wind refreshes, blows nostalgia at me through a small park; the scent of fallen leaves.

This is home. It is familiar. Canadian.

I love this about where I live – the familiarity, the nostalgia, the ease of moving around here, of knowing what to expect, season after season.

And yet, the other half of my heart continues to tug me, as it always has, toward Ireland.

Ireland I.

It was momentous for me – going back. In the months and weeks leading up to the trip, I had been so busy with work and life that I hadn’t really considered how it would feel to be there again. At some point, I had actually thought I didn’t want to go, though I suspect now that was some form of self-preservation. Steeling myself against the onslaught of emotion.

It wasn’t until we were on the plane that I allowed the excitement and anticipation and meaning of it all to cascade over me. I smiled, my heart tripped over itself, my eyes filled with tears.

And now, on the other side, it is all just a memory. Ephemeral. Wisps of not-quite-real.

*

We all have our personal myths, our stories that make up who we are, gathered and guarded, told and re-told to ourselves, to anyone who might listen.

Mine has always been Ireland.

First it was Ireland The Dream. That began when, at the age of 2, I had the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem as my imaginary friends. This dream followed me through school – my room a deep green and adorned with a map of Ireland – and an undergraduate degree in Celtic Studies, when I was also President of the university’s Celtic Society.

Next, I moved to Ireland and my myth grew and spread. I was the one who stayed. The one who moved there.

I never wanted to leave. It was a whim, really. I followed a boy back from Ireland to Canada. At first, I pined for my memories, my life there, my dream. My pining turned to bitterness when the relationship fell apart. I gave up all thoughts of going back.

Until this year. It was my mother’s 75th birthday and I suggested we do a trip to mark the 20th anniversary of the first time we had gone, bringing my son along on the adventure.

*

And so there I was. On the plane. The full significance of it all just dawning.

Scheduling time

How long I have fought against the grain,
against my natural rhythm
my internal clock ticking
counter to everyone else.

As a child, I wanted to sleep
but my father
and the sun (streaming through windows)
had other plans,
banging and clanging,
the beat of cutlery disentangling itself
for a breakfast ready too soon.

As the mother of a young child
I adjusted to the quick beats of another’s heart
up early to greet new adventures
while I, groggy, still clung to dreams,
straggling along in his wake and, finally,
coffee-sharpening mind
ready for the requirements of school.

There was, I think, a brief interlude,
independence asserted
between childhood and parenthood
I wound my own watch
set time to my own desires
late classes and jobs and evenings under dancing stars…

And now I find myself unclaimed
in a strange undetermined no man’s land
between two rhythms,
two lives,
my beat discordant,
not quite my own…yet.

But the possibilities of time – my time –
stretch before me.
Infinite.
Mine.

Adrenaline – and stars and blossoms, too.

I recently found this fragment of writing in my drafts folder, written at a time when work was beyond busy. It sums up the frantic energy — tiring but rewarding — that has been tearing me away from any creativity recently.

 

How rare is it now that I look up to see the stars, or down into the tangled sprawl of blossoms? Though I may look, I so seldom see beyond the words on a screen, printing their way across my thoughts, or the many tiny puzzle pieces of a schedule I must fit together, the ever shrinking number of days left to do it.

None of this is to say I am unhappy. Busy, tired, at times overwhelmed, but challenged, stretched and growing, too. 

So many thoughts employed, so much to do, that I must beg your pardons, stars, blossoms, but it will be another few weeks till we meet again. Till then, I am flying by will and grit alone.