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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Papa Was Breaking Stones on Prince William's Seat

The stones, the flat stones, and the skyward arrows to drive you on. For up read sideways, evidently, into the scar, the brushland, the conifers razed and removed, all but one, that gives you the finger. The hillside lets out it belly, fold after fold of it, and you walk the line between valleys, the long apron of Glencree and, past the lead mine and pine forest, the shimmering chaos of Dublin below and the spilt crumbs of its islands. Is it, is it, the esker (est-ce que?) asks and vanishes over the ridge again and again. Thrash in its wake through the calf-high gorse and startle the kite that lifts rustily over the lamb-skull and spine. The swallow hole will, if not swallow, nibble an ankle, bog water gathering under your feet. Can you see us from the car park yet? Still south I went and west and south again, sinking as I went. The huge stones, how did they get there, elsewhere there are railway sleepers, airlifted maybe, unless there are chain gangs, swinging a feeble hammer while the splay-legged deer career down the hillside, leaving me, stuck fast and sunk, and the April sun, fitful and weak, on the stones, the flat stones, Papa was breaking stones on Prince William’s Seat.

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