GLENDALOUGH, CO. WICKLOW, IRELAND
Story goes, one morning, the sun like an eye
above the hills, St. Kevin held out his hand
in the mist and a bird landed in his open palm.
Built a nest from birch twigs. Laid three eggs. For months
Kevin turned to stone. Statue awaiting the birth
of wings. Today, limestone crosses, eroded. Every name
scratched into gravestone has been scoured away by wind
as lichen crawls up the church rock, a lush mold,
and the distant spray of waterfall splashes a half-mile up the hiking trail.
Weeks earlier, while driving the back roads near Bloomington, Indiana
the night exhaled lilac and honeysuckle. I watched a boy I didn't know
play guitar at a party beneath a string of pineapple lights hung above a backyard.
I couldn't look away. Staring deeper and deeper into that moment
the boy burst into flower petals. In two years
I have fallen in love a thousand times, my heart inflating like a hot air balloon
in the Albuquerque desert before the seams split, the balloon wrinkling
like a bed sheet on the sand. In the brochure, I read that the Round Tower
was used as protection against Viking invaders. Each time it collapsed, monks rebuilt it
using the original stone from the sixth century. Today in the monastery,
wind rustling the trees, I begin to hear something. As if
my body were old and near to the grave, as if I had reached
the birch tree tunnel's end, sound of bumblebee buzzing in the dogrose,
Glen of Two Lakes whispering about the day the glacier left, I hear
the angel the story says led St. Kevin to this land caught in the wind like flute song.
The angel knows this land like the grey heron knows her reflection
on the water, silver plumage shimmering, my mind wandering home.
When the angel asks me where I come from, I say from a heart attack.
Two chicken tacos. An iPod's murmur through a fuzzy car stereo.
I say girl-crushes and skinny-dipping. Lake Michigan before a night cop
told us to put our shirts on, go home. From a place called The Valley
of Paradise, where corn grew like foxglove by the old Froberg house
whose bell tower hasn't rung since the first World War.
I say Labrador puppies. Empty parking lots. The electricity
of lips, and a boy I loved without ever knowing his story. I say
there's a castle around my heart, that I'm ready
to not be ready, that two nights before I flew to this country,
after I fell from a tree in a beer garden, after a picnic table branded me
in blood, I met a woman parked in a Nissan beneath the haloed light
of the bar's parking lot lamppost. She asked me, though I hadn't said
a word: are you leaving America in two days? I say I have looked at the world
through the eyes of someone about to leave it, that the previous summer
my friend's dad died, that I brought him Mexican food
afterwards in a brown paper bag, that the world we grew up in
was already gone. Off the path, a patch of purple aster.
I follow it to the waterfall. Listening to the white noise
grow louder, I finally stand next to it.
My mind a bucket of static.
Maggie Graber holds an M.F.A. from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, and her chapbook, Beads, was a finalist in the 2012 Button Poetry Exploding Pinecone Chapbook Contest. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Atticus Review, Toad, Gabby, Utter, and Avatar Review among others.