Monday, August 1, 2011

Series: I Loved a Girl; Saint George's Channel

Copyright © 2011 by Charles Gilbert, All Rights Reserved

I Loved a Girl
Saint George's Channel

Charles Gilbert

    I loved a girl, through the width of a sea.

    We met in Fishguard terminal. She spoke of her time at Oxford, of reading philosophy – British for majoring. I told her of my sojourn in Stevenage, all the lovely people who rarely saw Americans, so happy to meet me, wouldn't even let me pay for my ale.

    Aoibhín was her name. She pronounced it as even.
    Irish for beautiful, and fair, which she truly was,
    Her long tresses, inky black as ocean depths, and skin like mother of pearl.
    A mermaid with legs.

    On the ship, she came looking for me.
    Couldn't sleep, she said,
    So eager to return to family,
    And the gentle Irish summer,
    And friends who knew what quer meant, and beach parties at Dingle.
    She took my card, put it in her pocket.
    We talked a long while. I never knew an Irish accent could be so melodic.

    Aoibhín taught me some Gaelic,
    So I could show her people
    Not all Americans are snobs.
    Maidin mhaith, go deas bualadh leat.

    Her cousin worked aboard ship, found us a vacant cabin.
    We spent hours in soft touching, exploring each other, time well invested.

    At Rosslare I carried her heavy case down the gangway,
    Handed it off to her bewildered father.
    They can spot an American at a glance. We have a way about us, they tell me.

    Maidin mhaith, I said to him,
    For I would not linger long,
    And could not say nice to meet you,
    Just good morning,
    And walk away,
    To spare her the discomfort
    Of introductions and explanations.

    The pub was open.
    Only in Ireland could one buy a draft pint of Guinness at seven in the morning.

    Hoisting my backpack, I set out on foot
    Through morning mist that smelled of tides,
    Past country fences of heaped stones, topped with raspberry brambles,
    In full fruit at that time of year.

    Grazing my way with purple-stained hands
    To Dingle Peninsula, the other side of the island,
    An unexpected detour in my disorganized journey.

    Aoibhín's letter reached Boston before me.
    It was sweet, and a bit triste, and smelled faintly of her,
    And had no return address.