And maybe then I will steal away to this secret Irish garden that I’ve built here in my heart, the place I went when we appointed a hot air balloon as emperor and I floated away on the backdraft to the place down past Corcomroe Abbey, the ruins of the stone cathedral where a firework of crows alighted through the open roof, where I still stood on terra firma, before all the clocks had melted and people were actually having to argue that their lives mattered.
I married an immigrant, melted my time into his and we made a family of ticking hearts. I carry them within the wonky clock of my own heart that keeps time with colors instead of numbers. My clock names the hours crimson and clementine and cerulean--Oh, for years I’ve been ruled by cerulean and yes, by the silver of these stones the same color as our daughter’s eyes, a color from some unknown immigrant, color of magic and the twilit hours between early evening and foggy dreams. And our son’s eyes the color of deep, rich earth.
I have tried to teach them a love beyond skin. I have aimed straight for love because it was my gypsy mother’s only recipe. Thou shalt love because it is the right way. I have failed and succeeded on repeat. Here, Child, is a map of the heart, the compass rose ticking past green and this wild blue sky. Build your home in here. Build a hearth. Build a sturdy door.
I have stolen away to this stone house in this clovergreen field. I feel safe here away from circuitboards and circus tricks. In my home country, the ringleader, the master of ceremonies stepped straight out of the clown car and began cracking his puny whip. I can’t remember if I am dreaming all of these captive elephants, all of these pedaling monkeys. Used to be a gentleman presided over this show. Used to be an elegance that governed this place. I’m waiting for my mind to reunite with my heart again. I am waiting for the crows to spell our names with their cursive wings across the invisible eaves, so I can return home again.
I married a man with strong shoulders, a man from far away. The color of his eyes like the heart of a redwood. I am searching the headstones for the name of my country. I want to hold it in my arms one last time. It’s the only home I’ve ever known. I’m looking for the gate in this stone wall while my heart can still remember all of the names for green, for these emerald hours, while I still remember that even a stone’s hard cold can not refute the shoot’s stubborn need to bloom. --Julia Alter