Excerpt From The Spirit of Ireland

Posted by on Sep 25, 2011 in Feature Slider - Front Page | 0 comments

On the beach I watched an old man. His spirit looked white , a kind of a shape around his body like a light. He pulled his car right up to the waters edge. He got out and took his clothes off. His shirt then his trousers. He left them in a bundle by his car. He looked up into the sky. His body was stooped. He had spindly arms. He put his hands on his waist. The sea was liquid. He was past time itself in age. It was an age that showed on his movements and his wheezing when I walked near him by the shore. He walked slowly into the sea. He walked and left his clothes and car behind. He looked like he was never coming back. The ocean took him with ease. Sparrows in a flock flew low over the water close to him. In the distance a trawler was heading out deep into the Atlantic followed by gulls. Their sounds filled the shoreline. The old man splashed water on his legs and chest. He was tempering his soul and spirit with each baptism of salty ocean water. He moved underneath and only his frail white back was visible. He dived like a human whale into himself and the ocean together. Into the womb of the world. Filling his eyes with water and all the memories of that day. I walked as close as a I could to see him float and merge with the water. A dog ran by me. He was gold with dark eyes and stopped to look up at me. I petted him. He felt soft and alive. I put my hands in the water. It was quite cool. The old man went further out. I looked at his clothes like a skin that had been shed. They looked like a man had be emptied of them they way they sat all lonely on the beach. I looked out again and he was gone. I was worried but just within the reach of my eyesight I could make out his sad white figure dipping in and out of view. This white soul emanating around his movements. He was so calm. There was no wind. The light seemed endless for once. I reached into my pocket and took out a coin. It was gold in color. I threw it and it was swallowed up. I made a wish within. I spoke to my thoughts and asked of them to show me a road out of here. There were footprints all over the beach. Tracks of man. Tracks of the shadows of bodies. Traces of a journey left in time. Unwashed but impermanent. I followed a set of small footprints. They stopped after a mile and just disappeared. I could no longer see the old swimmer. Old man time diving into the abyss. I wonder did his eyes see to the bottom. And when he came home and dried his soul by the fire. Was he thoughtless and beautiful in grace at home in the dark. Was he unburdened by God. Or were his hands loosely clasped in a divine request. All he has seen the extraordinary life of an ordinary man. The swim out to eternity on this beach. I wished to follow him and see with his tired eyes all the ocean that is hidden for us. And as darkness fell and I walked out of this landscape darkness fell and the veil opened. I felt the spirits of this land drawn outward from the thoughts of men the yearnings and longing of the quietening heart. I remain transfixed. But something moved out of my own heart and fled into the sombre evening valleys of Eire.

Copyright Alan Cooke

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