"So I left it stirring on those hills with a fluency only water has" – the lines from Eavan Boland’s poem echoed over and over again in Jenny Waters head as she sat crammed in beside the generously proportioned lady who had obviously spent the day shopping for Ireland.
She wedged herself tighter against the bus window seat as it wound its way slowly down Nassau Street in the Friday rush-hour traffic. Trying to ignore the ample girth of her travelling companion and the fact that it took up a good quarter of her seat as well as its own, she thought longingly of the whitethorn she knew would be flowering now on the soft hills of home. She still thought of Mayo as home although she had left it over 20 years ago and had made her own home in Glenageary.
Parcels of every shape and texture protruded from the other lady’s lap; what appeared to be the pointed end of a pair of knitting needles prodded her upper arm and wriggle as she might she couldn’t escape them. Her companion, totally oblivious to the discomfort she was causing, was carrying on an animated conversation with the person sitting across the aisle from her and who was obviously known to her.
The hard city accent contrasted with the soft burr of her grandmother’s voice that she could hear clearly in her head, remembering a conversation she’d heard a million times between her mother and grandmother. "Where’s the girleen gone now? She’s such a dreamer, that one. She must have been left by the fairies." "Ah now Mother", her mother would reply, "leave her be. She’ll be all right when the time comes". "Well, she’s a clever wee thing", her grandmother would admit, "but she hasn’t a note in her head. It wasn’t from our side she took that." The music of the fairies filled Jenny’s head and she breathed deep of the scent of whitethorn as she floated down to the house, to be in turn doted on and rebuked in the all-female household since the sea had claimed her fisherman father 5 years previously.
Suddenly, the seat beside her was vacated as the marathon shopper prepared to disembark in Blackrock, and Jenny started to mentally prepare dinner in her head.