The bells of the Rapunzel-towered Church of The Holy Name, Upper Beechwood Avenue, Ranelagh, Dublin 6, went chingalingaling (for you but not for me); a dozen brainless doves thrappled up a dovecot storm from the upper window-sills, rusticated Wicklow granite, last of Edwardiana; outside the door, dodgy hired truck—loaded to the gunwales—grumbled intent, bound for Palmerston Park’s fresh woods, pastures anew; and the emptied house echoed, sigh’d, kept mum, while departing tenant, refuse-bag in hand, pondered one last gallop about the scene, the site, the sight. You don’t want leaving prints, your louche tracks. Spoors ineradicable, agreed, but a certain Protestant order secured references, fulfilled some clotted reformatory need. Quick check won’t take a minute. Kitchen, dining-room, living-room, hall, all clear; upstairs next—study, back bedroom, guest room, your bedroom—bare, disconsolate, no flotsam, wait, that chest of drawers has its eye on you, check it out, top virgin, middle virgin, bottom—ah—so this was the it that pulsed palsied summons, wouldn’t let matters be. Holy Name bells fall silent, pouty doves and dodgy truck likewise. World without end defers to this lock of hair, forlorn, high explosive, a cappella, moritural. Looking up. At you.
Now. Now for grace under enfilading fire. Reach. No. Wait. Look a little longer. Her colour. Unmistakable. Blonde brought up on sun. There it is, thousand-eyed. Not for a moment accusatory, not for a moment welcoming. Simply there. You’ve no recollection of how it found this haven—but how apt! Bedroom witness to the fall-out post bust-up, unobserved constant observer of the processional hurlamaboc of the last five, six, call it seven—a fine spellbound number—years. Jesus Christ. Talk to it, won’t you? All right. So—‘What’ve you to say, cherie?’ ‘Nothing. Not a word. Nothing to say beyond what my blonde puissance states: I’ve been here all this time.’
Raise it—mindful—from the drawer. Finger it. Fingertip it. Whorl it! It’s dry, sapless. Could be a forgotten stage prop. Spare me… But it won’t—hasn’t waited here all this time to spare you, Traveller. How brittle it is, how pliant/bountiful was. How she tended it. How you treasured, frolick’d, teased it, puzzled deliriously the contrasting dark of her mons curls—charmed casement opening to the foam of perilous beyonds—aisy, child, on the high notes. Are you all right? Never better. Standing here in an abandoned house, my life in my hands, a ticking stage prop. In the moment, the gawpy moment, it speaks with such—teeth. It whirrs, doesn’t it? Burns the marrow. Yes. Veritas of the unforeseen. Indeed.
Dare you to smell it? Want to bet? No. Aren’t you the wise man. I’m craven—and shaky at the hinges—but I will honour the event—be true to it in my fashion. Bravo! All right. Breathe it in, deep breath. Well? That caught you off guard. Did you—innocence impermeable—did you really expect to inhale that meadowsweet fragrance you proprietorially gulped those giddy seasons long? Gulp! Go on. Sandalwood of the drawer—gulp your fill. Enjoy! La memoire a bon gout. Doesn’t it though. Well, God bless your adhesive memory. ‘Body remembers,’ she’d say, ‘Body remembers but the bod forgets.’ Touché. What else did she say? ‘You’ve dolphin hands…’ Was it she who said that? Think so… One o’ them, some o’ them… You look pale. Are you all right?
There’s a question hovering, isn’t there, hovering, hoovering, havering, can you hear it? Quite clearly. (Is that true—The bod forgets? Unquestionably. The body remembers? Does it? Well, it never lies, so it must remember… Likely so, likely so…) The question, yes, look, don’t rush the stressed pilgrim… Grumble of the dodgy truck impinges again. Trash-bag idle at your feet. I just want to look, to look at it once more. Study it in the cup of my palm. Photo-op? Weighing scales? What’s it weigh, tell us, you that has a dealer’s glic eye? Weight? You’d like to know? Please… All right, weight of an Armada anchor cruising past on the windward side, King of Spain’s daughter featly side-saddle, mermaid eyes, toes demure, and Botticelli ringlets candling the way—that any help? What does a bucket of blood weigh? The tear unshed? Thanks.
Finders. Keepers. Losers.
Finders. Wonder of finding. Everywhere summer. Exploring. Semper maneat. How curved the teeming hours. And, best of all, because the arcane of lovers is champagne (forgive the rhyme—but everything rhymes in this key), best of all nobody understands, the sealed capsule of joy is transparent, porous, shameless, stripped, inyourface, yes—but nobody understands… People look up, down, sideways, skyways—great! We loll in the mystery’s mastery…
Keepers. Securely keeping. How? By being—by being consistently—an item! An event? Call it that. By—yielding. By accepting. By—by not doing anything at all. By—by treading water (when not breast-stroking) in pools of the diurnal. Together. Together’s where it’s at. Relishing the merry wear-an’-tear of nights and days. Young days, younger nights. Horses of the night tameable, intractable, defying clocks, eat—come dawn—sugar cubes from your paw… Factor in Met Office—this is not the Costa del Sol. Watching shrapnel fly, casualties mount, acknowledging stretcher-cases, basket-cases, bankruptcies, chutes, shooting-ranges, declivity, acclivity, intervention of deserts of grass… Main thing, surely, keep the closest eye on habit, it takes watching, that rictus can break mirrors, saw it happen, look at those fierce shards, and who, tell me, will pick them up? Who will shore those fragments against my ruination?
Losers. One of the great, the simple, symphonies—sound of a door banging.
Meanwhile. This ingot. Ayenbite of ingot. Its question. It’s time to answer. And answer plain. There are finds—ogre circumstance grants us this—there are finds that won’t brook the each-way bet. Grand. Wonderful! So let’s hear the answer. This house—all your houses—blood relations—lovers past, present, and queuing out there in the lambent yet-to-be—we all wish to know. We are agog! It’s quite straightforward—cherish, cherish or discard? Right? Right. Well? I—I don’t know… He doesn’t know! Next thing he’ll whine—‘Whatever I do, I’m damn’d.’ The poor craythur… Come on, off the pot, man. Think of your grandchildren—don’t you want it on display for your grandchildren? What price the sealed envelope, with inscription enigmatic, rumorous, high-literary, elegiac—Only a lock of woman’s hair…
Engine growl from the street. The doves livening. What—someone tell me—can ye do about rain on the window? Beechwood Avenue to Palmerston Park, no distance. Hen’s race. There she waits for you, the current, light-brown hair charged, scent of rosemary. So. Pity you’ve forgotten your prayers. A while back. Shut up. Lock of her hair. Returning bells of the Rapunzel-towered Church of The Holy Name carillon above the deed—flick of the wrist you could easily miss—the plastic bag takes it in one go.