The Linnet's Wings :Take All My Loves, My Love - Page 85

The Linnet´s Wings knew was near past and yet beginning. He pampered and petted them like he did Grandma, and spent secret hours with them and lived them with us rehearsing our life to come, and teaching us. Then, a high-biting, cold spring day in 1955 I knew would be memorial, the sun shone but in snippets, ice still hiding out in shadow, winter remnants piled up in a great gathering, me bound to a shovel for the tenth day in a row. That’s when I heard of Johnny Igoe’s death so late in life. Grass and buds and shoots and sprigs of all kinds were aimless as April. All vast morning I’d hunted the sun, tried to place it square on my back. But the breeze taunted, left a taste in my mouth. Sullivan Marino, brother-in-law, boss who loved the shovel, sweat, doing the Earth over, walked at me open as a telegram. Sicilian eyes tell stories, omit nothing in the relation. “Your grandfather’s dead.”  He was vinegar and oil and reached for my shovel. It would not leave my hands. I saw Johnny Igoe at ten at turf cutting, just before he came this way with the great mul- titude. I saw how he too moved the ponderous earth, the flame of it caught in iron, singing tea, singeing the thatch, young Irish scorching the ground he walked. He had come here and I came, and I went there, later, to where he’d come from; Roscommon’s sweet vale, slow rush of land, shouldering up, going into sky, clouds shifting selves like pieces at chess, earth ripening to fire. I saw it all, later, where he’d come from, but then, sun-searching, memorializing, Sullivan quickly at oil and odds, his hand out to take my tool away, could stand no dalliance the day Johnny Igoe died. And when he died, they came by the dozen to grieve the savior of their awful nights; the drunken, besotted, brothered band who so often drained his cup. The mottle-skinned came, so soured of life, the pale host of them, the warred upon and beaten, they came to cache the little man who offered what was left of God. The saga of Johnny Igoe is the epic of a nation; The root cell, Johnny Igoe ran ahead of the famine that took brothers and sisters, lay father down; became sick in the hold of ghostly ship I later saw from high rock on Cork’s coast. In the hold he heard the myths and music he would spell all his life. He remembered hunger and being alone and brothers and sisters and father gone and mother praying for him as he knelt beside her bed that hard morning when Ireland went away to the stern. I know that terror of hers last touching his face. He might be housed in this computer, for now he visits, or never leaves. Yeats talks on record but the voice is my grandfather’s voice, the perky treble, the deft reach inside me, the lifting out, the ever lifting out. His books still live, his chair, his cane, the misery he knew, the pain, and somewhere he is. In the dark asides before a faint light glimmers it is the perky pipe’s glow I see, weaker than a small and struck match but illuminating all the same. I smell his old 85