The Tower

Thursday Thunk


Each Thursday, I post some thoughts or bits of books or poetry I am working on.

—I call them “thunks.”

Author’s note: I am headed to Ireland early next week with my mother Kate–my sister Ann will join us, along with many cousins, aunts, and uncles for an informal family reunion. I haven’t been back to the ould sod in 21 years, and I am pumped–for brown bread, the best cream in the world, 19 pubs to hit in Athenry, my mum’s hometown of roughly 5,400 people (one pub for every 287 persons), and lots of laughs and conversation with family. The only bummer is that my hubby won’t be there–don’t worry, Tim, I will raise a glass (or three) to ye each night. We all will.

That said, I may not post for the next three weeks (my Aunt Ellen asked me, “Why are you staying such a short time?” Let me think…oh yes, I have a husband, and I’d like to have one upon my return. I do have some fun stories about Ireland in the files—I wrote them in college and they are all based on experience (either mine or others’). I share one below; it was originally typed in the requisite form of the early eighties (on carbon and with several errors). Photos of the composition follow the piece and include the comments from my advanced comp professor. (I took this senior-level course as a sophomore—nervous at first—but I didn’t do half bad.) I’ve typed it here as written, except I could not bear to exclude the Oxford comma or include three cringeworthy errors. At some point, I will rewrite this—I don’t remember taking up the professor’s offer to confer…typical! Sláinte!

The Tower

One summer in Ireland, my cousins, my sister Ann, and I journeyed through a field near my grandmother’s home. It was a scene I had become familiar with, but never tired of: lush, green hills dotted with trees and sheep, with a cold, clear stream running vertically through it, protected on either band with dandelions and overgrown nettles.

We traipsed past the cud-chewing cows and bleating sheep who ignored us, and spotted an old, grey, stone tower in the corner of a wall that surrounded the field.

Tower exploring being our favorite adventure, we ran toward it and surveyed the entrance. The only opening was far above us; we would have to escalate ourselves up roughly six feet of stones.

Desmond climbed first, his feet slipping once or twice, kicking dirt and fragments of rocks below. I pushed him up, then grasped the cold, moldy rocks, placed sneakers in crevices, and pulled myself up into a small room.

The first thing that greeted me as I sat down on a rock was a horrible stench. I suppose the tower had been the home of some birds and probably a few bats.

As we crowded into the room, it was easy to imagine ourselves as kings and queens of old Irish yore. The tower had probably been there for hundreds of years as a place for soldiers to look out for advancing warlords, though it was hard to picture a soldier of any bulk in it, having bumped our heads several times already on the low ceiling.

Hearing other voices, we glanced out the opening. Below was a group of local children, angry that we invaded their domain.

After getting a good look at their scruffy faces, we decided to leave, and jumped down.

One boy, of about twelve, stepped over and promptly asked my cousins where they had picked up these “damn yankees.” We walked away, angry and insulted.

We kings had been booted out by the warlords.


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