Saturday, February 25, 2006


First published Ireland of the Welcomes, Jan/Feb, 1992.
It played in blue. Jetting free on wide wings it turned, spun, was active, was full. It soared: dancing; spinning in the skyscape. It slipped, skimming, rolled joyously. It dipped, rose again, spiralled, gliding upwards, peaked, stalled brightly, then sinking slowly backwards it hung easily on its own cushion of purest air.

Slowly now, fluid, musical, trickling downwards, alert for sudden updrafts that might cut it loose to flail helplessly away, it ranged among the lower airways, self-contained, watchful, and utterly alone...

Lower now, closer, a shimmering haze dusted horizons, masking, dulling blue and green. Shifting slick mirages flowed across the country road or stood in silver pools between the telegraph poles and stone walls of summer. White pebble in a crossroads; yellowed grasses by an iron pump; heat spread a thick blanket on the landscape. Flowers laden with pollen were worked by bees that hummed through purple meadows. Grasshoppers chirped and sang. The sky here was blue-grey, empty and huge.

There, the breeze -- curious child of the sun -- stirred slowly. It sank lower, more comfortably, lazily resting. Gently, deftly, the warm air rising tugged until it slipped gently sideways, hovering a little to gaze out over the green patchwork of fields, then plunged to earth. Heady vapours rose as it descended, fragrant bouquet of wildflowers, aromatic in the sunshine. The brisk smell of drying hay it carried with it from a yellow field, welcome as a home-coming and whispering like silk though land and woods.

Lower still, it brushed the greying margins of the roadway, swirling miniature dust-devils to dancing-dervish frenzy. It dropped, scurrying the length of the straight, dry ditch, waving leaves and branches wildly where it passed; kicking twigs and brambles before it in a drain-bed. Leaping out, it bounced across the road, capered by the pump, scuffed tufts of grass, skipped the low wall around, then dived recklessly over. Ripples scudded sideways in the brook beyond, scattering startled fishes under safer stones. Rambling the riverbank, it drank in the cool air that lingered near the water, puffed itself up, cast about, blew a tuneful, swaying blast through a crouching willow. It laughed as the tree tossed, shivered, clawed, creaked, murmured, stilled.

Pleased, it chased about the meadow, dodging flowers. It gambolled up the slope towards the crossroads, quartering the land. Then, from the hilltop, the lower world refreshed and cool beneath, it leapt suddenly upwards, joyously, wildly, carelessly, away. Skimming fresh cloudlets, it ranged among the airways of its true and only home -- that huge, blue silent dome of the big sky...

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