|Kevin McManus lives in County Leitrim. He has worked as a secondary school teacher since 1997. He has also played in many bands over the years since the mid-eighties. Kevin has recently published his first novel entitled “The Whole of the Moon.” which is available to purchase online at Amazon.|
The Turning of the Wheel
By Kevin McManus
The turning of the wheel, dawn awakens, night becomes day. At first subtle, dull and dim the brightness creeps and struggles to overpower but the night it will be forced to yield and retreat. It will slip away like a tamed dog. This battle has been fought many times before.
Then suddenly Sharp arrows of light pierce through the breaking dark heart and it bleeds colour. The rays of sun peer through the hovering Steely clouds like fingers ripping apart a dark shroud. A fiery glow rises from the Earth and the moon ascends to heaven. A kiss goodbye for now. The radiance is painted in vibrant strokes across the sky and reflected on a silver lake below.
Day separates from night like lovers torn apart. The shackles of the black hours are shed and we welcome and rejoice in the return of the god of light. The Sun, the day star is ascendant. Hues of orange turn to blue.
The earth mother breathes again. She is hungry. It inhales the clear frosty air and drinks the moisture from its skin through its worm holed pores and into the dirt. The Earth mother is heated and tempered by the comforting embrace of the light from a sun. It’s nurturing embrace. The morning is here, it is dug in.
A lone and distant bird heralds the dawn perched on a grey branch silhouetted against an orange morning sky. Her song is later accompanied by a vast and glorious chorus greeting the morn.
The promise of a new day beckons but dusk will return to dark.
What stirs in this sleep hollow? Who is there to drink in the sensual majesty of this bucolic scene? Is there a soul that dwells on this Earth?
An Adult male observers through a cracked and filthy bedroom window. The room in which he rested in cold and and dark. The splendour of the morning colours have only seeped carefully into the grey walled house. Its dank pebble dashed walls stand like a tombstone or a monument to a more joyful time when the walls rang with echoes of songs and childish laughter.
He peers through a smoky and dust covered pane that censors the outside light. He rubs his tired eyes and dreams of rest and an end to sleepless nights that only bring an illusion of peace in this rural and seemingly tranquil place.
The stillness is shook by a slight morning breeze that shivers the bush outside the window that is in bloom. It brings clarity. A time to stir, to rise and begin. To put on the clothes that are thrown on a chair. To splash cold water on the face. To scratch the head. To damp it down. To put on boots and heavy unwashed socks. To shiver in a north faced cold kitchen that never absorbs nature’s heat.
The setting is rural. A place that should be at peace but it is not, a rustic, tranquil land that is isolated removed, uncomfortable, shielded by tall bleak mountain walls that encase the valley. A place for thoughts and contemplation and soul wrenching guilt.
The apple trees in the overgrown garden within the stone wall beyond the window of the kitchen are hacked. No fruit will they bare, they are barren. A tractor tyre against the garden wall, once black now venomous green is being pulled to ground by briars that snake around it and squeeze and constrict like a serpent in Eden. Their thorns grip and tare to force the rotting construct to subdue. To fall to earth and be encased and suffocated.
A lean and hungry grey cat is perched on a gate watching something moving in the grass. Its bones pierce painfully through its thin coat. A magpie peers at a rusty pan below the gate with one eye on the cat as it cautiously attempts to pick for food that has long being licked clean.
Outhouses, sheds, shacks surround the forgotten apple garden. Red rusted roofs punctured with black holes. One iron door lies on the ground nearby almost totally devoured by corrosion. Stone walls have collapsed. Rubble is scattered and buries what lies beneath.
There is no life here, no brightness only a bare existence. A place devoid of hope. A place where love was lost and warmth and spirit were torn and exiled. No place, no room for compassion or understanding, no forgiveness or redemption can be pulled from this hard, grey earth. Old long and tired fingers have bled in the past trying to find hope and life here as jagged stones were ripped from the dirt. But beneath the stubborn boulders all he found was pain and decay and isolation. A terrible isolation.
He wanted to return to reach out to others. To the people he once knew and loved and laughed and lived with. Each time he tried, this place grabbed him and pulled him and strangled him and would not let him go. Like the briars that pulled the tyre to Earth. Maybe today or tomorrow he would try again. But he was getting old his spirit was getting weaker by the day.
It would be a long journey, a long road he has travelled since that time. Lately he thought that it was too late anyway. Soon he would find peace in another way. Should he should just wait now and let it take him, take him here in this place.
Shadows were already crossing the jagged grey walls as dark and heavy clouds were merging overhead. Soon the rain will pour and soak the earth and the dirt will drink it in and he will stand in the deluge and let it wash over him and soak through him and cry and mock the sky and the heavens and demand redemption. His white beard will drip with rain and tears as he will rant and wail in the empty and desolate farmyard. Like a pagan ritual that he has endured a hundred days or more in the past. But the waters never wash him clean. They cannot cleanse him or console him. The futile practise ends as ever in him huddling in the dirt, in the filthy mud like a frightened animal that has been beaten by a brutal master. But maybe, maybe today would be different as he unshed his ragged clothes and stands naked with his arms outstretched screaming and cursing up through the dark clouds to the heavens as the rain falls upon him like a dog and the briars wrap around his legs like serpents and the thorns tear into his flesh like teeth.