Caillte

Through the thicket of trees that stretched sternly high and bushed out where their length thinned, opened a clearance. The post-storm silver steel sky held onto it’s pressure with a humid stillness that cacophoned in his unconcerned ears. The atmospheric compression built on itself and gravity was weighted.

But the tension trickled and tripped – perhaps poked and penetrated by the tips of the forest – and instead bloated, waist-level from the ground like a bulging bell that almost made him double over. However, he toughed through steps forward from his emergence of the woodlands and moving onwards he divorced this grippling energy and fell onto his own weight, which pounded painfully. Rainwater and sweat stuck to his skin, his face glistened as though he himself was a product of water. 

Globe droplets descended from his flattened hair and landslid down his unaged and addled face. The earthy smell of damp wood surrounded him and seemed to plume even from the loose stones which he trod on barefoot, his feet dirty and bleeding as he walked with a limp. Men were here among the lumber and doorless squares of sturdy stone in the pouring rain and under the godless grey sky they wore tweed caps that only sponged the falling water. With the wrinkles in their hands browned they collected logs and shelved them into the puddling wheelbarrows. Some collected pounds of hay that lost its goldenness under the bleakness of their surroundings. He glimpsed slowly at these men as he bucked through, none paying him any mind. 

Slabs of pillar were slapped up and roofless like a maze that the dwindling men came to and fro and lost themselves within the passageways. Tucked in snuggly between lands of these columns smugly stood a woodlaced church. A crucifix protruded the high porch like a watchful eye and drew him towards the ever open doors. Above, crows choired and circled.


His focus was intercepted when a commonplace figure prodded the pallid quiet of tip tap rain. 

A mhic, an bhfuil tú caillte? Croaked the old man. 

The language confused him.

“No – no thank you.” He gave the man a gracious, slippery handshake and stumbled past, hindering at the front place of the stupendous church. “I’m..I’m looking for my father.” 

Carrying my heavy body up the cobble stair I trip – landing on my knee, drawing rocky breath. I pause, merging my flakes of stamina together. Broken shoots of heather attached to the bare heel of my feet which are also sprinkled with nibs and bits of blackened evergreen surge an ominous tickling sensation. 

I rise, and the birds above detach from their flurries. The hallway to the altar is dotted with tiny aqua square tiles which gleam from thin soakage. There are natural sunken dips where the soft floor has dived from water weight damage. An old smell of frankincense hangs in the cold air with an unusual tinge of chlorine.  

I bow, immediately. Not out of rule, but out of loss. My wrists slob to the holy floor, and I rub them along it, like ploughing through wax.


I rise, water-logged again, so that drips which had newly found me re-home themselves on the ground.

A slight sting in my left eye, I flatly pace closer to an altar that is brightly blinding to examine directly. But it is lifeless, and therefore meaningless to me – I cannot reach there. 

I stop my ascent. I am close to the head wing – the epicentre – the altar. My head forcibly held high and trying, I face it directly and feel an opening within. An emergence of emotion that weakens my stance so that I can no longer anchor myself against the tide. Hot tears move on my already sodden cheeks and I yield – I side slide into a vacant long lined horizontal bench, and I feel even there a wetness through the surface of the clumpy sitwood.  

I decide to take a quick measure of a glance behind me, and notice to my dear apathy an elderly woman with gorgeously lap-styled hair and a gentle green feather slotted through the delicately folded strands seated at the first bench by the entrance. She seems frantic and perhaps wailing as her clenched fists shake in front of her. She is dry, or either she is immune to saturation. Either way, her brief spell of grief does not affect me, I am impermeable. 

Alas, my impassibility is lost as I return my charge towards the altar and pick from my neck skin a handcrafted beadwork of rosemary. In my hand it is beaten – no doubt from the shipwreck that thrashed and bashed me against those trees and threw me into a ravaging storm that needed to be battled, to be passed. 

Tears glide. My hands clasp in prayer. “Ár n’Athair..”

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