liffey valley, leixlip, kildare : sept 02
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