Mr. Geoffrey – a Love Story. Part 6 of 6
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I read him Irish poems in the Irish language. He told me Jewish ones in Yiddish from memory. We would slowly translate the words to each other. And sometimes back again, verbally fondling those that had a commonality between the Gaeilge (Irish language) and the Yiddish.
On our very last afternoon together I read him Lady Gregory's marvellous translation of Donal Og.
It is late last night the dog was speaking of you;
the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh.
It is you are the lonely bird through the woods;
and that you may be without a mate until you find me.
You promised me, and you said a lie to me,
that you would be before me where the sheep are flocked;
I gave a whistle and three hundred cries to you,
and I found nothing there but a bleating lamb.
You promised me a thing that was hard for you,
a ship of gold under a silver mast;
twelve towns with a market in all of them,
and a fine white court by the side of the sea.
You promised me a thing that is not possible,
that you would give me gloves of the skin of a fish;
that you would give me shoes of the skin of a bird;
and a suit of the dearest silk in Ireland.
When I go by myself to the Well of Loneliness,
I sit down and I go through my trouble;
when I see the world and do not see my boy,
he that has an amber shade in his hair.
It was on that Sunday I gave my love to you;
the Sunday that is last before Easter Sunday
and myself on my knees reading the Passion;
and my two eyes giving love to you for ever.
My mother has said to me not to be talking with you today,
or tomorrow, or on the Sunday;
it was a bad time she took for telling me that;
it was shutting the door after the house was robbed.
My heart is as black as the blackness of the sloe,
or as the black coal that is on the smith's forge;
or as the sole of a shoe left in white halls;
it was you put that darkness over my life.
You have taken the east from me, you have taken the west from me;
you have taken what is before me and what is behind me;
you have taken the moon, you have taken the sun from me;
and my fear is great that you have taken God from me!
In my memory, that poem filled up our entire session and spread out over all the afternoons we had shared. I took my time in reading it. My voice felt strange and thick and lonely to my ears. As if there should have been foghorns in the background. Every line felt heavy in my mouth. I had to wrench it out of myself.
His eyes never left my face. Now and again he took his thick glasses off and swept a finger beneath his eyes without closing them. More times than I could count. Catching the tears before they fell, I like to think.
I hesitated when I stood up to leave him. I felt awkward, ungainly in my last week of pregnancy, awkward in the emotions that threatened to overflow into tears or into awkward, inadequate words that would diminish all we had given each other.
Silence can say far more. Silence can bathe everything in golden amber, preserved forever. Taken out of the mind's secret drawer every now and again and admired afresh from every angle.
I turned and I left, closing the door without looking at him.
I never saw him again.