Seamus Scanlon is an associate professor and a Carnegie Corporation/New York Times awardwinning librarian at the City College of New York’s Center for Worker Education. He is a native of Galway, Ireland and a graduate of University College Galway, the University of West London, and the City College of New York. Recent achievements include a residency at the McDowell Artists Colony and an emerging writer fellowship from the Center for Fiction in New York. His latest theater project ‘Dancing at Lunacy’ ran during March 2012 at the cell theater in New York to enthusiastic reviews for example in the Huffington Post. The sequel ‘I Am Harm’ is nearing completion. His work has appeared in the Irish Times, the Sunday Tribune, Promethean, Journal of Experimental Fiction, Review of Post Graduate English Studies, Global City Review, Fish Publishing Anthologies, the Roanoke Review and Gemini Magazine.
My Galway German Girl
By Seamus Scanlon
In Galway I can’t forget.
I flee often. To Rahoon.
High above Galway City.
The limestone Burren across Galway Bay is shrouded. Rain squalls race towards me. The smell of sea air reaches up. More black clouds wait off shore. Deep-sea bound trawlers leave the docks, slowed by the heft of swells from the Atlantic.
No-one sees it.
The rain hides it sure.
My sorrow lies low and cruel within me. Everlasting. A fine polished arc of pain through me.
I think about my German baby.
Dead long ago now. Cancer ate her up. Beauty and the beast.
Ate her up before me while I looked on.
While I looked away.
While I tried to soothe her in the Regional Hospital. Stretched out on stark white linen sheets. I snuck in at night while her mother dozed on a chair.
Victor don’t visit. It is wrong to be here.
She cried. I lay my hand on her skin, etched with a patina of pain and slick from fever. Blue white veins under her translucent skin mocked me.
I hated her.
I loved her.
Before me she was dying.
Fucking not fair.
She was fair.
Adored her sure I did.
Met her by accident in Galway City Library. I was reading Mein Kampf. I was a little Nazi neophyte. She walked up. She knocked the book from my hand. It skittered across the floor. Das is pure shoite (she had a mix of Galway and German accents and phraseology).
Read something real why don’t ya?
Like what I said.
Like me. Read me.
She stared into my eyes.
Read me she said pointing at herself. Me. Me.
Her bellicose invitation startled me – thrilled me.
Her harsh laugh echoed far in the City Library.
The circulation desk staff member looked up and scowled.
The female German blitzkrieg kicked my Mein Kampf under one of the stacks. I was afraid to retrieve it. Even though it was my personal copy.
Outside we walked down by Woodquay where swans nested all summer with their five signets. They drifted below the granite legs of the Galway to Clifden railroad bridge fighting the strong current. They sat like moored Spanish galleons once did in Galway docks centuries ago waiting for the wind to shift to carry them home.
She sat on one of the benches looking across at the university grounds. Rushes bent over with the strong breeze blowing down from Lough Corrib.
I am real but soon I won’t be. Kiss me.
She pointed at her lips. I did my best. She pulled back after a while. She cried. What’s wrong – did I do it wrong?
She lit a cigarette.
No – dying I am. Cancer. She pointed at her chest.
I jumped up. I knocked the cigarette out of her lips.
It’s too late!
She was right.
She is buried in Rahoon cemetery high above the city. She looks across the bay towards the Burren and the grey clouds heavy with rain that huddle off the coast until they eventually drift in over the town and cover the narrow grey streets with fog, mist and then rain.