Beauty knocks, despite my distractibility. The Falls, with its cascades of thirsty dark stone, sad-eyed donkeys, the path winding into the woods. The church door, inlaid with St. Brigid's crosses plaited from straw. The fields arrayed in lone, enigmatic columns of stacked stone.
On the drive home, we listened to the radio, mute: Greece, holiday nightmare, the diminishing state of social welfare. I stared out the window, as the landscape unfurled half-remembered sites before my gaze. I used to live here, in this county, with a man to whom my heart was once tethered.
A mint-green wall here, a limestone hill there, the b&b where I served breakfast to sleepy German tourists. There's the mural Jim had painted, with children from the local school, depicting the village in its cradle of limestone and water. The weird tourist complex overlooking the bay, now locked up and gated. The wall where Jim crashed the Berlingo. The b&b where I cleaned bathrooms and made beds as butterflies flitted in and out of rooms named after local flowers: the blue gentian, the bloody crane's bill, the bee orchid. The house I lived in, guarded by the great sprawling limbs of an ancient ash. The garage flat I also lived in, its threshold shaded by sycamores. The little road that led to a small beach, the bay, and the view of Galway, where I live now.
Down the road we went, past the fairy fort; the stretch of beach where Beanie's brother was found with his eyes missing, eaten by crabs; the ruined castle on the grounds of a condo complex. Past the incongruous minimalist grey cube of a house. The house with the palm trees. Everything I once knew so well, because the landscape was so bare.
We drove on homeward, turning away from the road that would have lead us to other once-known places full of strange and ancient things, tiny farms and graveyards. Here, another Phil lived; here, my first marriage crumbled into ruin; here, every girlish habit from my wayward Californian youth was stripped away, leaving some raw kernel of being, left to knit new skin from wind and limestone, the stuff of sea and moon.