“It was a scene which seemed the heart of this land. The lowing sun and the one star waking, white wings on a black water, and the smell of rain, and the long lane fading where a voice comes in the falling night.” ~ Jamie O’Neill, from At Swim, Two Boys

The dark horse, Liscannor, Ireland J0sh FCC
The Dark Horse, Liscannor, Ireland by J0sh (FCC)

” . . . they would tell me nothing, except that they had been commanded to travel over Ireland continually, and upon foot and at night, that they might live close to the stones and the trees and at the hours when the immortals are awake.” ~ W.B. Yeats, from The Adoration of the Magi

Wednesday afternoon. Cloudy and humid, 81 degrees.

I just read the most remarkable essay in Parabola, “The Search for One Thing,” by Betsy Cornwell.

Please understand: This is more than one of my casual reblogs. Cornwell’s words hit so close to home, almost too close. Everything she says, I have felt. All of her words have been my words at one time or another, but not in such a beautiful, linear fashion. This essay explains Ireland for me—the green that I have long dreamed of—all of it, it’s all here.

Sea thrift and the sea by slkovjr fcc
Sea Thrift and the Sea by slkovjr (FCC)

The Aran Islands have been in my dreams since I first saw them in some forgotten movie eons ago. The cliffs, the green, the sheep, the sky—everything that I have ever wanted in one place.

I don’t have Cornwell’s past with her father, yet I can understand her need to break away, to search on her own. For so many years I wanted to break away, but the curse of the only child is that your life is never your own, at least not until your parents are gone, not unless you want to bear the label of being selfish, and it was a label I couldn’t bear.

I don’t think that anyone has ever completely understood my dream of Ireland. Corey tries; he knows that it’s someplace I have always wanted to go, but it’s more than just wanting to visit. I want to spend time there, days, weeks, months. I want to walk and bike and, well, mostly I want to think about my life.

It’s not escape I seek. It’s clarity. The kind of clarity I will never have here, not here in this house in this city in this state in this country. Don’t ask me why I know that to be true, but I do.

This is the biggest truth I know: I need to go to Ireland, and soon, otherwise, I fear it may be too late.


 

The Search for One Thing
by Betsy Cornwell

“Give it one week of hard frost,” my new husband says, “and all the green will be gone.” He has slowed the car to let two adolescent does cross the road, and we watch them vanish neatly into the ditch on the other side. In the 4:30 November gloom, the perfect white of their rumps is nearly all we can see.

Irish Cliffs minniemouseaunt FCC
Irish Cliffs by minniemouseaunt (FCC)

As they pass through the high brambles of the ditch, Richie admires their fleetness, their nimble feet. I say the deer must risk the danger of the road only because it’s winter and they are hungry, but he says they wouldn’t be wanting yet; that’s when he warns me about the week of frost, and the green.

But here, even in winter, Ireland is so green that to walk through the countryside is almost to think you are underwater. And here a ditch is not a hole, not an absence, but its opposite. An Irish ditch is a raised thicket, a dense living tangle of blackberry and ivy and gorse. Twining through the ditch are innumerable tiny tunnels—through them mice and spiders wind. No snakes here, of course—remember St. Patrick—but the tunnels mimic their absence, their silent, assured sinuousness.

When I first came to this country, I remember thinking that even if I jumped from one of its many cliffs I wouldn’t fall, but float, until the cool wet wind of this place carried me back, softly, onto the grass that is so green it is like water, like every kind of life pulled together into one.

I came here to renew—something, although I didn’t yet know what. And to escape, well, everything.

Two years ago, at the end of my MFA program, I was broken down and burned out, spent twigs for a spent fire. I did everything quickly, heart in my mouth, because I felt sure that if I took any extra time I would collapse into ash. I was teaching three times the prescribed student limit, tutoring, writing, finishing my thesis and my classes, and editing my first novel for next year’s publication—all jobs that filled me with whiplash joy and panic and soul-crushing insecurity. A person I loved had shown me such grinding ambivalence that I’d had to let him go, and I spent far too much time imagining our never-to-be future together. There was a cushion-laden corner of the floor in my cheap apartment that was alternately a nook for grading papers and a nest to curl up in and cry until I fell asleep. I ate whatever I thought would make me feel better, mostly
cheese and Vernor’s ginger ale. My heart was broken and my belly ached.

I had a particular dream that kept me working: I wanted to go to Ireland. I’d come in second for a Fulbright arts grant to write about selkies in Dublin, and the near miss had left me determined to get there on my own. But when the summer came and I looked at my finances, I realized that even with my book advance I would have to choose between Ireland and more earthly concerns like healthcare and rent.

That day, my father called and said he wanted to know my schedule for next year because he was taking the family to Africa. We would go on safari and sleep in tents together.

But I have spent much of my life figuring out how to avoid being in the same place as my father, especially at night. And for the first time, that day, I told him so. One advantage of being so very tired, on the threshold of adulthood, is that your childhood nightmares start getting tired too, and it is harder for them to frighten you.

“I can’t go,” I said in a voice that shook but was still my own voice, coming out of my own body. “I can’t sleep in the same room with you.”

Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry, Ireland by Jackie L Chan FCC
Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry, Ireland by Jackie L Chann (FCC)

The other end of the line was silent. After a few seconds he said, “All right. That doesn’t make me happy, but I understand.”

We hung up soon afterward, and one weight was strangely gone from the fears I carried.

A few days later he called again and offered to buy me a ticket to Ireland instead, since I wasn’t going to Africa. It felt like hush money—if I was brave enough to tell him I remembered, whom else might I tell? I said I would have to think about it. I felt sure I would say no, but that dream was a hard one for me to give up.

I went into town to have coffee with Trish, a woman twice my age who feels like someone I grew up with, a friend whom I often call my spiritual guide. The Catholic school we attended, with its Planned Parenthood protests, homophobia, and rape apologism, tempted me to throw up my hands at even a nebulous, agnostic God—but it was Trish’s faith that kept me searching for my own. She combines her devout and somewhat radical Catholicism with dashes of Buddhism and a sharp flair for the intersectionally feminist, and I’ve always loved her for it. I liked to say that she was “Tapped In To Something,” because it was the only way I could find of explaining her radiant wisdom and kindness, the light that shines through her. (When she’s not giving spiritual counsel to frightened young women, Trish is a professor of sociology and a brilliant poet.)

As soon as she sat down I started crying—big, gasping sobs from a shy woman who can rarely even manage to raise her voice in anger. I don’t know if I’d ever shown that much emotion in public before.

Trish stroked my arm. I wept into my giant bowl of latte.

When I quieted, she laughed and said “Honey, I wouldn’t go through my twenties again for anything.”

Galway by Shadowgate fcc
Galway by Shadowgate (FCC)

Suddenly, I felt much better. I wiped my eyes, and she asked me what was wrong.

Trish is third generation Irish-American; three of her grandparents were born on the island where I now live. And it was she, in the end, who brought me here. I told her what my father had offered, how it felt like a bargain I didn’t want to make, and that I never wanted to owe him anything ever again.

She looked at me steadily. “You never will,” she said. “He could give you money until the end of the world and you’d owe him nothing.” He’d taken more, she said, than he could ever give back; and though some well-trained part of me thought I was being a Bad Daughter, I admitted she was right.

“But . . .” said the Bad Daughter, on the verge of tears again. I found I couldn’t finish my sentence, and I took a deep, shaky breath. “God, I’m so tired. I’m sorry about this.” I waved at my eyes.

Trish shook her head. “Go to Ireland,” she said. “You’ll rest there, you’ll write your book. It’s where the world keeps its magic. And don’t go to Dublin. In fact . . .” She pulled out her tablet and did a quick image search. “You need to go here.”

Galway, Panoramic from Claddagh and River Corrib WC
Galway, Panoramic from Claddagh and River Corrib (Wikimedia Commons)

She showed me a Google page thick with pictures of green cliffs, dark waves, and small stone-bound fields. A girl’s feet dangled over the edge of one cliff, her legs mid-swing and
relaxed.

“The Aran Islands?” I laughed. “It’s mostly sweaters there, right?”

“The Aran Islands,” she said. “See? You’re happier already. Go there,” she thought for a moment, “for at least a month. It will heal your soul.”

My soul leapt out for healing, and I knew that I would go.

Three months later, I am sitting in the warmest corner of Tigh Joe Watty’s, one of only two pubs on the whole island. I am smiling, and every part of me feels light. Tall, redheaded Uinseon McCarron dances a beautiful Australian girl named Sjonelle across the dark wood floor, and the rest of us at the table watch and admire them, their easy grace and easier smiles. Dave, the handsome, acerbic owner of the hostel where we all work, comes back to the table with pints of cider. I haven’t written anything in weeks.

I did not understand, when I first came to Ireland, why I wasn’t writing. It was the first time in my life that I didn’t feel overworked, and suddenly I couldn’t work at all. I’d been manically, neurotically productive for years, trying to scratch my way into prep school, college, graduate school, New York agencies and publishing houses. And now here I was, not a student for the first time since I was three years old and my parents enrolled me in university preschool. I had my master’s, and my book wasn’t coming out for almost a year. I could support myself until then, meagerly, on my advance and hostel work-exchange.

Inishmann Teach Synge by Arcimboldo WC
Inishmann Teach Synge by Arcimboldo (Wikimedia Commons)

All my life I had wanted “to write full time,” but here I had all the time in the world, and I wasn’t writing at all. I would wake up early every morning determined to work, and I would hover over the Cinderella retelling on my computer, making small changes that meant nothing. I always ended those sessions at least a little disgusted with myself.

My afternoons, though, I set myself free, wandering through the cobblestoned Latin quarter of Galway City to the rushing gray mouth of the Corrib. I would walk the promenade from Galway to Salthill and back, looking out at the quiet bay, cold wind slipping over my face and silvering my hair and skin with salt, breathing air clean as miracles.

I’ve spent most of my life inside my head. In childhood my body was the site of fear and confusion at the hands of an adult protector; I became expert at curling up inside myself, where my senses would know and remember nothing. The desires and doubts of adolescence only made me retreat further. My body hardly ever did what I wanted it to; I have never even been good at sports.

As I grew older, this disconnect led me to think that my body had no needs of its own, and certainly not much value. It carried my mind and my heart around, and that was all. When I felt worn out at the end of school, I thought it was only my soul that hurt. I didn’t notice the knots in my back.

I struggled over my writing in Ireland, and as Trish had instructed me, I worked to heal my broken heart. It was my lungs and my legs, though, that first grew stronger, walking along the promenade, making beds and mopping floors at the hostel.

Galway gpoo FCC
Galway by gpoo (FCC)

Salt and clean air, and enough work to make you need them.

Healing was in my body, was stitching into my very cells, before I could even see it working, before I could see new words on the page. When I came here I thought I was failing, but something was already starting to grow.

In college, I studied literature and fairy tales. Some—”The Selkie Bride,” “Cinderella,” “Red Riding Hood,” “Tam Lin”—I’d read in different translations and retellings since I was a child. I have always loved, more than anything, stories. Stories helped me escape those parts of my childhood that I could talk about only years later. I told myself stories, too, even as I progressed into adulthood. I thought I knew what I wanted, whom I would love, how my life would lead. I was a good student, a follower of rules. Whenever I searched for something, I believed I knew what I would find, and when, and how.

I write fairy tales for a living now, and like many feminist writers I try to give my heroines the agency that they sometimes lack in older versions of the tales. The aims of women of my generation and the one before—and many, many brave and hard-fighting women before us—are all for choice and action. By action I mean achievement, agency, doing. I believe in these ideals; they keep the world moving forward, and help to give it some chance of (maybe, someday) being just.

But lately I have been thinking that these older princesses and witches and peasant girls have a kind of wisdom to offer us that has lately been lost: the wisdom of passivity, of stillness.

Those seemingly un-feminist stillnesses are nearly always there, in the most enduring of the old fairy stories. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Red Riding Hood curled up in the wolf: what are they thinking, unthinking, as they lie there un-doing? Are they glad, un-chosen as it is, for the rest?

Whether they are or not, the stillness is part of the narrative, and therefore is itself part of the moving forward, the doing of the story. Even when they are still, their stories go on. And I have found, in the time that I have spent in this place, that stillness has a strength and power of its own. I believe now that I needed not to write for that time. There are many fields here that lie fallow.

Road through the Burren EoinGardiner FCC
Road through the Burren by EoinGardiner (FCC)

Soon after I met my husband on Inis Mor (the largest of the Aran Islands—oh, Trish, how right you were) he told me something that has twined itself through my heart ever since. In Irish, he said “faigheann iarraidh, iarraidh eile.” In English: the search for one thing leads to another.

I came to Ireland to write a book. I could not write, but if the soul is a place of quiet and stillness and peace inside oneself, I found mine, and the island and I healed it where it had been starved and broken. I met my partner, and I found my home. And nine months later, in the spring, living in East Galway with Richie, I began to write again.

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“If you want to learn what someone fears losing, watch what they photograph.” ~ Unknown

Here. My spirit is here. My body needs to be here.

Irish Headlands 1993 Nat Geo Photo of the Day

“Kindred headlands called The Three Sisters look to sea near Smerwick on the Dingle Peninsula. For the ambitious, country lanes lead past sheep paddocks to cities already bursting with job seekers.”—From “Ireland On Fast-Forward,” September 1994, National Geographic magazine
Photograph by Sam Abell

Kerry Coast by Steven Nestor My Shot Nat Geo Rock of Cashel by Christy Nicholas My Shot Nat Geo County Tipperary Ireland Ross Castle on the Shores of Killarney National Park, Ireland by Travel Pix Limited Nat Geo Pastoral Ireland by Jim Richardson Nat Geo Killiney Beach, Ireland by James OGorman, My Shot Nat Geo

                    

From a Country Overlooked

There are no creatures you cannot love.
A frog calling at God
From the moon-filled ditch
As you stand on the country road in the June night.
The sound is enough to make the stars weep
With happiness.
In the morning the landscape green
Is lifted off the ground by the scent of grass.
The day is carried across its hours
Without any effort by the shining insects
That are living their secret lives.
The space between the prairie horizons
Makes us ache with its beauty.
Cottonwood leaves click in an ancient tongue
To the farthest cold dark in the universe.
The cottonwood also talks to you
Of breeze and speckled sunlight.
You are at home in these
great empty places
along with red-wing blackbirds and sloughs.
You are comfortable in this spot
so full of grace and being
that it sparkles like jewels
spilled on water.

~ Tom Hennen

All images found on the National Geographic site.

Music by Martina McBride and The Chieftains, “I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight”

Another video, this one of the country itself: Ireland: Flying through the country, by Liam Ó Brádaigh

“Find the joy in your life, Edward.” ~ Carter Chambers, The Bucket List

                   

Carter Chambers: Forty-five years goes by pretty fast.
Edward Cole: Like smoke through a keyhole. ~ From The Bucket List (Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson)

So one of my newest compatriots over at Sweet Mother sent some blog love my way in the form of an award:

The rules are to use all 26 letters of the alphabet to say something about yourself. She made a list of 26 things that annoy her, which was hilarious, by the way. I talk about things that annoy me all day long, so I thought that for a change of pace, I’d make a list of 26 things that I want to put on my bucket list, places I want to see, people I want to meet, things I want to do. Can’t wait to get to Z.

Here goes:

Old Typewriter by rahego (FCC)

A: I won’t cheat by using the letter as the article that it is. In this case, I would have to say that it stands for Athens. I know that Greece is pretty much in the toilet right now, but I have long-held a desire to visit Greece for two reasons: to see if it really as is blue and white as all of the travel photos depict it and to visit the ancient ruins before they erode away completely. I’ll be you thought it would be Australia . . . that’s a different entry.

B: Is is too obvious to say that this stands for book, as in the one that I’m writing in my head, the one that I want to compose on an old IBM Selectric, the one that will probably never be published? The other b is Belgium. I wonder how much longer this little country will be around? I want to go. Something about the old architecture of Europe really calls to me.

Cardiff, Wales (Wikimedia Commons)

C: Hands down, Cardiff, Wales. Dr. Who. Torchwood. It’s Wales. It’s old. Did I say that it’s Wales? A close second would be cosmetic surgery, as in having the fat in my stomach moved around and redistributed to my tatas and my buttocks. But since I know the value of a dollar, this is not going to happen, so I’m sticking with Cardiff. The other c you’ve heard about time and again: a cottage by the sea with Adirondack chairs and a sprawling garden. One or the other or both, preferably,

D: Diving, as in scuba. I know. There is very little chance that with my lung capacity that this will ever happen, but the idea first occurred to me in the 10th grade when I opened a book and saw the incredible blue waters of some island, can’t even remember which one now. But I used to sit my butt down and watch every single Jacques Cousteau show that came on television before the days of 2,000 channels, and I always wanted to dive, to go far enough under the water to see the sea. Still want to do this.

E: Obviously, Ewoks are out of the question, but it’s such a great sounding word that I just had to throw it into the mix. Actually, there are two places in the world that I would love to see: Edewecht, Germany and Egypt. The first is where my German relatives live, and one day I’m going to make the trip across the water to see them. I don’t know if Egypt will ever happen, but wouldn’t it be cool to see all of the ancient architecture there?

F: As in Fitzgerald, F. Scott. I know that I cannot meet him, but I would love to live as an expat as he did, living on the edge, writing books and stories. Okay, to make it more realistic, let’s say France and Fitzgerald. The French are, admittedly, xenophobes who don’t much like anyone who isn’t French, but the museums, the cuisine, the wine . . . definitely on my want-to-do list.

Skydiving instructor: Okay, let’s deploy
Edward Cole: [singing] I’ve got a feeling I’m falling!
Skydiving instructor: We’re in the red zone, pull the cord!
Edward Cole: [singing] I’ve got a feeling I’m falling in love
Skydiving instructor: PULL THE DAMN CORD!
Edward Cole: [pause] I was in love once… ~ The Bucket List

G: This one has been on my list for years: glider. I want to feel the freedom of floating in a glider, which I imagine is as close to flying as a human can come (other than those bat suit thingies which look both intriguing and scary as hell), And no, hang-gliding would not be enough. I do have one other g: the Great Wall, which I want to see for my dad, who traveled the world but never saw this structure. I know that it was on his bucket list, even though he never really had one of those.

Silent Glider

H: Hammersmith, England, which is where I spent several years as a child. I would like to go back and see everything now as an adult, visit the pubs, go to all of the places that I saw as a child and appreciate them with adult eyes—Oxford Street and all the rest. Another h: hot air balloon. The idea of going up in something like this excites me, enthralls me. I had two chances previously, but did not do so. There was a boy in the very first composition class that I taught at Virginia Tech, and he was an avid ballooner (term?). He would write about it in detail, and ever since, I have wanted to do this.

I: Do I need to say it? Ireland. I’m going there one day, and I may never come back. It’s so built up in my head that I’m truly hoping that the reality doesn’t pale in comparison to my idea, but I don’t think so. So much history, so many writers and poets, so much green.

Ireland (from Trip Originator)

J: Jackson, as in Peter Jackson. I know that this might seem like a really bizarre fixation, but I think that this man is a genius, and I would love to meet him, work for him, fetch his tea, whatever. This man took my favorite series and made it a reality without butchering it, and considering the complexity of Tolkien’s vision, that’s nothing to sneeze at in derision.

K: Kiwi, as in New Zealand (see Peter Jackson above). I want to go to New Zealand as much as I want to go to Australia, and this isn’t a new want, and it didn’t even arise with Jackson. A lifetime ago, my ex and I actually talked seriously about moving across the world and starting over. The other big K is kayaking. I did this once, and I really loved it.

L: Not a person and not a place, but an animal: Labrador Retrievers. I have decided that I will always own at least one. They are the most loving of dogs, intelligent and loyal, and more importantly, they make me laugh, which is not something that I can say about many things. The other l is library, as in a personal library, as in I want.

M: Manola Blahniks or something in that vein, Louboutin, Gucci, whatever. Yes, I would probably fall off them and break something, but just once, to have a really expensive pair of shoes, even second-hand. I don’t know why. This is a bucket list, after all. It doesn’t have to be reasonable. The other really extravagant item that has been on my list for a very long time is a Mercedes SL. I know that I’ll never own one of the sports line of this driving machine, but as with the shoes, I can dream.

Louboutin Classic Pumps

N: New York. I know that it sounds trite, but I want to go back to New York with Corey and show him all of the museums, enjoy the bustle and flow, be a tourist. The other place in this category is New Orleans. I haven’t been in many years, and definitely not since Hurricane Katrina. I want to go back and have hot beignets and rich coffee.

O: Another one that I have long had on the list: the Orient Express. Yes, in part because of Agatha Christie, but also because I think that it would be a remarkable way to tour several countries, do the entire line, all the way to Istanbul. Expensive, possibly prohibitively so, but a woman can still dream, can’t she? Oh, another o: Oregon. Don’t know why, but think I would like it.

P: A poesy ring.This speaks to the very heart of my Medieval nature. These rings are based on ancient designs in which the inscribed phrase is Latin, Greek, ancient Gaelic, or French, among others, and I have wanted one for years and years. And of course, Ph.D., as in still want one.

Orient Expressman Pullman by Dick Penn (FCC)

Q: Queensland, Australia. My blogger friend Maureen has instilled in me an appreciation for Australia, and I really want to see the Great Barrier Reef.

R: Rowing. Sounds strange, yes, but I actually enjoyed the act of rowing when I owned a rowing machine, and I used to think that I would like to translate the act to the water itself. If not full on rowing, then kayaking. Ideally, I would kayak in Australia and then fly over to New Zealand to visit Peter Jackson . . .

S: Selectric, vintage (see B above). Red or black. Good working order. Will pay for shipping . . .

T: Tri-gold interlocked ring, preferably antique. Again, another long-held desire of mine. A friend of mine at the newspaper had one as her wedding band, and it was an antique, and I coveted it from the moment I first laid eyes on it. Such a simple design but so beautiful. When Corey and I first talked about getting married, I had told him that I wanted one, but we never found one.

Carter Chambers: [to Edward, of the two questions asked of the dead by the gods at the entrance to heaven] Have you found joy in your life? Has your life brought joy to others? ~ The Bucket List

U: Not a country, not an item, not a person, but a feeling: unburdened, unencumbered, as in no more outstanding debt. No more calls from creditors. No more bills that cannot be paid. To feel the weight of such a state lifted from our collective shoulders—achieving this one would be pure bliss. Truly.

Buick Enclave

V: Vehicle of my own, mine, just mine. I know that this is an American thing, that Europeans don’t possess this car-love, but it’s been so long since Izzie, my Trooper, and I haven’t had my own vehicle, and gosh darnit, I want one. I only have a few specifications: small SUV, hybrid would be nice, color must be black or charcoal grey, leather seats so that I can have heat for my back, a good stereo system, and plenty of cup holder space. The vehicle doesn’t have to be new, but it has to be mine.

W: A walkabout. I don’t know where, perhaps the Appalachian Trail, but I love the concept. Not a Forrest Gump kind of walkabout, but a Crocodile Dundee kind of walkabout, without the hamminess. I used to love to go hiking in the Virginia foothills, and always fancied going further. Men can do walkabouts, but a woman setting off on her own in an unknown direction for an unspecified amount of time? Still not possible, really, is it? For now, I’ll fill this dream with simply getting back to walking. Soon. Really.

X: I always think of Coleridge when confronted with x, and a place that no longer exists: “In  Xanadu did Kubla Khan/A stately pleasure-dome decree.” I’m going to cheat on this one because I really cannot think of anything x-specific, so instead, I’ll do math: a+b=x, with a being the equivalent of a room, and b being the equivalent of ample space, which makes x the equivalent of a room with enough space to have my writing area, my books, and a comfy seat to curl up with a book.

Window Seat (from Coastal Living)

Y: Yoga. I miss yoga. I loved the way that it made me feel. These past few years when the money has been so tight and extras have been out of the question, I’ve put the idea of yoga classes on the back burner. I’m hoping that by this summer I might be able to start taking them again.

Z: This was a toss-up. Should I choose zenzizenzizenzic, which everyone knows is the eighth power of a number? Or how about zho, the cross between a yak and a cow? Or perhaps zoanthropy, the delusion that one is an animal? I do happen to like zydeco, Louisiana Creole music, and I have eaten zwieback, a toasted biscuit. I’m not particularly fond of ziti, finding it too thick. I could go on for days; the Internet is a wonderful place for nonsense. In other words, I don’t have a z place or a z person. I suppose I have arrived at zeroable—able to be removed from a sentence without any loss of meaning.

Runners-up: A hedgehog, anything leather by Kenneth Cole, Iceland, white-water rafting, a 5K, built-in bookcases, room of my own, a comfortable couch, the Venice opera house, and the means to buy any book that I want.

Thanks again, Sweet Mother.

More later. Peace.

                   

Late addition:

ABC

I’ll never find out now
What A. thought of me.
If B. ever forgave me in the end.
Why C. pretended everything was fine.
What part D. played in E’s silence.
What F. had been expecting, if anything.
Why G. forgot when she knew perfectly well.
What H. had to hide.
What I. wanted to add.
If my being around
meant anything
to J. and K.
and the rest of the alphabet.

~ Wislawa Sz;ymborska