A Leprechaun Tree Grows in Orange County, Part 5

Back in the United States, the old conversation remained: “Don’t you dare ask me about that damned country, do you hear?” My Irish grandmother, who’d worked in New York as a seamstress, said this holding a needle, but it may as well have been a knife. I tried to understand the source of her pathos–that she had to leave Ireland or that she had no desire to ever return. Perhaps it was the Irish koan, the double bind–damned if you stay and damned if you go–that led to this waiting station disconnected from story or place. In alchemical terms, the base metals underlying this waiting station remain untouched, the soul’s prima materia not worked, the pain not metabolized. The resulting trauma of exile, of not knowing how one belonged to the world, manifested in the great waiting–but waiting for what? If place has vanished and with it story, what happen’s to one’s narrative? It waits underground, in darkness, praying for re-emergence, for a spot of soil to nudge so life can begin anew…Rebecca Solnit writes, “Trauma is inherited as silence, a silence it may take generations to hear.” It would be the next generation, my generation, who would say enough to the secrecy…enough to the wait. We would dig past the genealogical charts and venture down into psyche’s bogs. We would sniff for the stories long buried, the poems etched on skeletons. We would re-claim the thin spaces. Life would begin anew.

The Burren


2 thoughts on “A Leprechaun Tree Grows in Orange County, Part 5

  1. Connie McDowell

    Maura, this is a compelling read. I want more. I come from a long line of Irish secret keepers. Mostly females. What county were your people from? We’re from Kerry and have a house we share with 5 cousin/partners in Sneem on the Ring of Kerry. It’s a village of 400, 6 bars, 382 Catholics and 18 Protestants. (That’s us in the big stone edifice.) Our pharmacy serves both people & animals, so read the label. I’m yearning to go there. We don’t have any Covid19 cases in Sneem…it’s the plane ride that’s the problem.
    Hope you are well.

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