Tuesday 26 December 2023


Are there any poets here?”


“Then I'm not going to church. You get married. I'm never getting married. Last night,” she announced, “I dreamed I was a fox in a burrow.”

“A fox in a burrow,” Liam muttered as he skied towards the cabin. “A fox in a goddam burrow.”

“Don't worry,” he heard  Eileen shout from behind him, “everything's going to be all right. The crow told me.”

“Jesus Christ,” he said, throwing his poles down in the snow, “the crow told her! No one but a godammed poet would  marry her anyway.”


The next morning, after walking six miles through ankle-deep slush, Liam and his sister entered the frame church and settled themselves at the back. The whole congregation looked towards them, then each member turned to his neighbour and whispered the word “Papist.”

As the hysterical preacher raved about sin and death, Liam noticed that the sun had changed its position in the room and was now making a furnace of Eileen's red hair. One by one the men in the church, as if drawn by its heat, turned their heads to glance at her, then quickly looked away, as if the fire of her hair might blind them.

Cover: Gerald Leslie Brockhurst. Ireland 1916. 1916. The Hunterian, University of Glasgow.

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