July 19, 2001

Howth

Seagulls scream like children, cry like babies, hoot like monkeys, trumpet like elephants.  In their cliff front caves they sound like a primate house in heat, hooping and hollering as they dash in and out of the shadows.

Ireland is beautiful.  I’ve vainly tried to photograph some of the breathtaking scenery – and it did literally take my breath away – but as I compose it in the black marks I see already it will fall short.  Part of what is so beautiful is the expanse of how it fills my view and tucks into the corner of my eyes, how it is all around and everywhere.  Even the familiar walking the cliff path of heavy gray gravel does nothing to diminish this place.  It is hills of rock cubes folded over and over each other iced with three colors of jade dotted by purple and yellow brushes.  It is at once smooth and rolling as well as violet and hard and sheer.  Dark green ferns and brown scrub and gold dust buttercups.  Thistles and moss and tiny pink flowers and I really can never express it in words.  To my right stones burst up through the crust like vertebrae over the surface of a back.  The sunlight is shimmering the water of the bay, the watercolor blue of the bay, making it shimmer like a mirage, blurring the edges of the island and its squat stone tower.

This is why I shouldn’t write until the day after.  I need to take it in.  I am just dumbfounded and awestruck.  I can barely lift my head to look at it all.  To try to process the textures and colors and buzzing and monkeys and hills and breezes and endless blue sea and the peaks and valleys and thorns and brambles and gravel and far off triangle boats motionless by distance.

I need to see some more.  I need more.  So high up I could touch the airplanes and fall forever.

No matter how innocent and hidden a spot may be, there is always an empty cigarette packet.

Oh, Ireland, what did I find at the top of your mountain?  A Spanish woman smoking a cigarette and shouting into her cell phone.  So very fitting, it really didn’t surprise me at all.

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