The stones, polished by the Sheen, you didn’t want me to bring. You said they were symbolic of the baggage I carry around. But you know, “all that extra weight”, it did anchor me to days of mellow light, such as that June afternoon – Eimhin’s twelfth birthday- when we brought the boys to the ford where the river lingers. Up to his waist in the cold still water, he picked them out for their perfect roundness. I kept them on windowsills where the light soon dulled them until we finally closed the door. Then, I placed them under the beech tree, glossed back to rusty pinks and green by a bitter rain, I imagine they are still there, fossils of more rounded days that never really hatched.
If I could choose a beginning I would choose that very day or maybe another June afternoon when the warm light, latticed by the foliage of the copper beeches, quivered through the low windows, stretching its lace on the quarry tiles of the kitchen. On a slate hung by the dark green door, I had written in chalk ” Welcome to Paradise”, for in those days I thought beauty must bring happiness, a misconception, to a certain extent, typical my Frenchness.
We dreamt our life for the hours it took for the removal truck to find us. You talked to us of sundews, natter-jack toads and of the elusive Kerry slug that we were bound to discover on the long walks we would take. And when the lowering sun skimmed the top of Deelish, you told us of the music, the myths and the magic that ooze from the pores of the rocks. We believed you. We knew we had come home and that at the bottom of the boreen, Cooloo had always been waiting for us.
We didn’t know that upstairs, its ghosts danced an icy tarantella even in the warmest August, we didn’t know that by the time we left, all four of us would be damaged, some irrevocably so.