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liffey valley, leixlip, kildare : sept 02 : a.lovatt


to the high gate

by ralph david samuel

No one's destination, a weathered inn clings between river and mountainside. In front a slab of painted-over names bids, River Spa – call for hours. A single visitor lies naked on a padded table. She claims to be relieved the final cord is cut, but oiled hands knead lines of tension from her nearly perfect form. On her way to pay respect to the father she never knew, she hopes to name at last her long avoided sense of loss.

In the corner of a window pane a spider spins out last reports of sun retreating up the hills across the river as a dark division slowly takes the higher ground. Fingers probe old tension points until the woman dreams her father takes her to a distant church where he will give the sermon. Desolate in a strange class, she sobs till organ pedal notes shake the room, then terrified, she screams down corridors. At the sanctuary someone claps a hand across her mouth, pulls her away. She hears, You can't go in. Our leader speaks... She tries to say, My father!, but she cannot grasp the air.

She wakens to a steady slap of palms. She feels her mouth is dry, takes a sip and tension slips away until she spreads her arms as if to sail into the waning light. Then from the dark below a swan floats up, breaks through clouds, banks toward the clear bright mountaintop.


(c) by Ralph David Samuel, 2002, all rights reserved.



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