Sunday, December 02, 2007

recycling old writing, one more

The other piece they didn't take. It's not perfect, but I like it.

LIGHT: Midnight Sun

Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

It’s late, well past the legal closing time of midnight, on to the real closing time, whenever the bartenders finally decide to call it a night. Two, three o’clock maybe, after the people have had a few more pints and sung another chorus of “Green Fields of France.” Everyone spills into the street that runs between the two pubs in this little spit of a town. The street is still lit from the lights on the pubs, the hostel, the GPO.

The sky above is a crepuscular, pitch black dream, a blanket of stars that looks like layer upon layer of astronomy charts. I walk up the hill to the B&B where we’re staying, and an inky blackness washes over the Burren moonscape, where boulders lay scattered in the verdant fields as though landscaped by a giant. The place feels expansive in daylight, but the night is so thick that even the lights from the B&B seem constrained within their own small sphere. A night or two in this kind of dark and you understand why the Irish believe in spirits—they’re hiding just beyond that stone wall, in amongst the sheep.

The B&B seems to be lit with an unnatural disdain for the night. In the room, Joe is passed out, long since returned from his hash-induced excursion to sit by the stream that cuts through the village. David is still awake, waiting for me to make it back safely. He’s drinking Bulmer’s from a can, and reading William Trevor.

He says, “Scored it from a guy outside The Crane. He had two cases on his shoulder. I asked if I could buy a can off him, and he gave me the whole six. Wouldn’t take any money.”

He closes the book, says he’s itching for a cigarette. W e take the cider. Outside, it is so quiet every sound seems amplified. The match being lit, the burning crinkle of tobacco, your breaths as you exhale into the cool, living night air. We move away from the door of the B&B, to the street. David’s voice cuts the night. He’s ten years younger than me, and this is all new to him, being in another country in the dead of night, when someone just gives you a six-pack of Bulmer’s cider, when there’s no light around. The Burren is so stark it feels like you’re spending the night at the end of the earth, like it all just stops at the Cliffs of Moher.

It’s as we wander in the street away from the safe envelope of the B&B’s light that we both stop. There is a meniscus of light limning the horizon, the slightest brightening of the sky as it drops off to infinity. In that small space of shadow and suggestion, there is a whole color spectrum, not our old friend Roy G. Biv but something distant, mysterious, hopeful. Black bruised by purple moving to a yellow tinged cerulean. Against it, the silhouettes of a farmhouse and a barn, the stone fences that insistently define properties here.

We’re looking West, maybe a little North, a long way from home, looking at smallest remnant of a day that won’t end for a few weeks yet, never quite leaving one end of the sky before it arrives in the other.

I reach for a platitude, but there are none to be had. The summer days are long here, but nothing quite prepares you for this betrayal of the night.