And a storm follows you.

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And a storm follows you.

 

It may have been just an accident of a kind that led me to find

A few lines and the search for more words of Farrell’s work

But as hard as I searched I couldn’t find a book by him at all

So I scanned the stacked shelves lined with lost memories,

The feint remains of times, of days, of others hands and eyes

And I found a surprise, a collection of that other Thomas’s verse.

 

I carried the prize to look it over thoroughly in Bannerman’s Bar

As I sat and began to read the terse few lines of The Return

Two neatly folded cuttings fell to the floor. Thomas’s obituaries,

And the odour, gathered oldness and age wafted to me from the faded

Fragile paling page and I could see the book had never been opened,

Had never been leafed through either. Pages hidden within pages.

 

It may have been the absence of those tell-tale lines on the spine

Or the lack of dog eared folds that might give away the sign of a verse

A reader had once dwelled on, a preference of some kind I suppose.

And while I sat there I was reminded once more of our stay at Ahakista

In that August, and the hellish night when Farrell out alone disappeared,

And his body never found in spite of all the searches over those days.

 

The Fastnet Race too was destroyed by that storm and as they said

In the Tin Shed pub it was the worst kind of blow to come out of nowhere.

And that strange remembrance brought another as they sometimes do

Of our stay that time with a friend in his old tumbledown cottage

Overlooking Dunmanus Bay; and of the moment of finding your uninvited

Arrival when we’d returned from walking the mornings gathering shore.

 

And I can recall watching too as you smiled, unable or unwilling to explain

The reason you’d followed us. And I remember it felt so odd, so strange

That realisation we’d been followed by you, tracked down by you even,

After telling you in the plainest words to go the other way. It seemed

You’d chosen to ignore my words or perhaps heard the words differently

So you turned up anyway and proceeded to act as if nothing was wrong.

 

And I watched you, a stranger, wheedle your way in with our friends,

People you’d never met and didn’t know, and I began to hate you then.

And even now sitting with my thoughts of that time I realise I still retain

A deep, deep disdain, a feeling I’d thought I’d left in that place long ago.

Thirty five years after Farrell’s unexplained death a woman revealed

The story of walking that night with her son’s along the wind-blown edge.

 

She came across Farrell adrift in the towering waves of a sea in its rage

And described the way that he looked at her and drowned himself in order

To prevent her losing her own life too, if she’d tried to rescue him from his doom

From the certainty of his grave, as she had wanted to do and so leave

Her boy’s watching, alone and motherless. An old belief of those who worked

The sea prevented them from saving the drowning and so interrupt God’s calling.

 

Could such a thought have been in Farrell’s mind

As he chose to give his own life for hers, those boys.

And it is that thought that stays of the unselfishness

Of his act of sacrifice, his readiness to let go and slip away.

These memories and stories prompted by the pristine,

Untouched pages, contained one within another,

For reasons unknown, the portent of a story

That may never be heard and may never to be told.

 

And so I write to let go of that feeling

Of being haunted by you

And the storm that follows you.

 

 

James Gordon Farrell Novelist.

(1935-01-25)25 January 1935 – ­11 August 1979(1979-08-11) (aged 44)

Bantry Bay, County Cork, Ireland.

 

Ronald Stuart Thomas

29 March 1913 – 25 September 2000

Pentrefelin near Criccieth.

 

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