The day has greyed over from the sunny frost of early morning when I go out to the car. A discomfort in the cold northerly wind, its bite on my face. I don’t close my coat.
Colum phones just as I am parking on Cove Street, and we talk a bit about work. He’s trying to contact Eileen to call up to her before he heads home to South Kerry.
Which is a reminder of Dermot, not that I need one. I’ve been trying to write something about his funeral – only four days ago, which is as impossible to believe as the fact that he’s gone. Trying and failing; the words – nebulous to begin with – wisping to nothing somewhere between my mind and my useless fingers on the keyboard.
Colum points out the irony that the first year Dermot could have wandered into Henchy’s for a pint on Good Friday is the very one he’s not around for.
They’re demolishing the huge building on Sullivan’s Quay. It looks self-conscious and ashamed. Watching it seems indecent, like being able to see somebody you don’t know go to the toilet, or undress. I turn away.
I notice the poet Leanne O’Sullivan on the street and wave to her. She waves back.
A beggar on Nano Nagle bridge is pitiful and I am ashamed I don’t give him something.
A sense of strangeness in the English Market, its colour drained. Of something not quite in kilter, harsh at the edges.
I buy fish and chicken thighs and noodles and tinned tomatoes and an orange. I buy a cloth bag in the olive stall and some olives and vine leaf wraps. The shop assistant puts the olives and vine leaf wraps into it and I put all the rest of the shopping in on top squashing them. I’m glad of its weight pulling my shoulder.
Mister Bell is selling raffle tickets for Marymount Hospice – another reminder. I buy one and the young man behind the counter mis-spells my name and tells me the raffle is because the ex Cork City player Liam Miller died there a few weeks ago and the City fans are organising it.
He looks like a City fan too – in his yearning to belong; to be part of a collective, but an underdog collective. He has a poor effort at a beard, but his eyes are kind and intelligent. I wish happiness for him. I’m not convinced he’ll make it.
I meet Diarmuid. What are the chances? I try and succeed not to hug him or to get weepy. That photo of Dermot where he looked so like his lovely son. I don’t know what to say to him so we chat about his new house and how he can walk to town no bother from there. We say goodbye quickly.
I pass Paul’s stall hoping for a chat, some normality, but he isn’t there, his young lad is minding it for him. Don Spicer – as erect and handsome as ever, even if he is over seventy – is buying chocolates at a counter. He has a backpack for his shopping. He doesn’t see me and I don’t speak out – he’ll only want to talk about Dermot too. What a lovely man, though, I’m sorry I didn’t say hello. It looks like he’s enjoying his retirement, I hope he is – Dermot never got the chance.
Spanish speaking kids on Patrick Street, looking cold.
I go to Waterstone’s to pick up the collection of short stories Mothers, by Chris Power that I’d ordered. It reminds me of Mark. I wonder if he’ll be around for the weekend. I remember we’re heading to Waterford tomorrow so I won’t contact him. I’ll see him for the Quarryman launch in April, I hope.
Buying salads in the shop on Academy Street. A very angular and tragic looking woman passes, like something out of Weimar Berlin. Easons to buy a file holder, wondering what it will feel like to see my book in a shop later this year. A wave of imposter syndrome passes over me.
On Winthrop Street I get a figary for a pint in the Valley even though it’s only lunchtime. Chris O’Sullivan hinted he might be in there, having flown home from Spain. I walk in to check but he isn’t there and I walk out again.
An even stranger urge to see the Hi-B and I walk up the stairs. I can’t remember the last time I was in there. The door opens but the room is gloomy and empty. A startled woman clutching a bag of lemons says they won’t open until two. A smell of piss on the stairs back down. I remember the time I was in there with Kerry and Tom trying to cure a hangover one afternoon in the mid 80s and Brian threw Kerry out for not drinking his pint. Langer.
Is it ten years since Kerry died? It must be.
Which reminds me of Anne. Eleven years since cancer took her.
My dead friends.
A woman steps out of a Euro shop. She’s the image of Irene Long but it isn’t her. I can’t face going into Liam Ruiséal, I don’t know why. I phone Ciara to tell her I got some salad for lunch and I’ll be home soon.
A really tall young man. A flock of pigeons on the roof of the building beside the People’s Park. Flowers outside the public library.
I want to sit somewhere and look through the book maybe read the first story. The Oval, but it’s closed. I don’t want a pint, but I do too because I can. I want to stretch out this moment, this sense of being in town on Good Friday and being somehow grateful for everything I have but at the same time unearthed and raw.
The Spailpín is open but I don’t go in. I think of the night of my last hurling match (we lost again); of crying upstairs there and Ciara trying to sooth me. I knew I’d never play again.
Onto Barrack Street. I remember the first time I walked up it, I was only thirteen and Der and John had brought me up for a Rory Gallagher concert. The sense of possibility.
The Brown Derby is closed too. The night me and Scally drank whiskey in there and then got into the height of trouble. Somebody told me during the week that they knew the new owner. Maybe it was Quirkey or Colum. I can’t remember.
Back onto Cove Street towards the car. A dried-up pond of vomit in the middle of the road.
A beautiful family come out from one of the small houses, all dressed up in what looks like West African ceremonial clothes. The teenage girl is almost six feet tall and she minds her little sister.
Driving home I stop for flowers on Douglas Street. Gerberas and pom poms. The woman there is always so friendly, and something lightens in me. I think her name is Justine but I can never remember. Coughlans across the road is closed.
I think about going to Balinlough Church, just to sit there but I head home instead. The wild garlic at the entrance to our park is almost in flower. I notice Billy’s car isn’t there, he must be home from San Diego and his meditation retreat.
The sedum seems taller every time I approach our front door. The sun is trying to come out but it won’t.