The performance hit her in a manner she hadn’t anticipated, meaning she’d expected to reckon with a complete stranger, but not the effect emotionally; she cried through nearly its entirety unable to stop, slammed with the sense of, he doesn’t even know. In the face of how she’d felt love had brought her back, she found it unbearable, so much so that she drifted out of attention; at a certain point she didn’t even notice any longer what the songs were, instead concentrated on the delivery of something she felt almost certain now could not register at all. She took no chances and went over to what was serving as the backstage exit two songs before the first encore. She handed Cave the letter personally; he said “Thank you” before handing it in turn to someone else and returning for the encore, perhaps appropriately “Brompton Oratory”. The sense she had of enduring some of these songs live was like falling in love all over again, reliving what had brought her awake, which just made it that much worse. -So much Worse. Even though she knew just in encountering, he’d be diminished, and of course he was, chain-smoking the whole time. The impact however, she hadn’t reckoned.
She slipped out the back of a tent opening (it wasn’t a door) just as the band finished without security noticing, perplexed as to if and whether she should do anything. She stood less than fifteen feet away regarding him when suddenly he was swamped with fans, which brought down security driving everyone off. Utter frustration. When she was accosted she retreated past the tent to a fence corner, which wasn’t adequate for the security even though Cave had left. She tried to put her head in her arms, a single plea to be left alone while they put a flashlight in her face, ordering her to leave. That put her in no mood to cooperate so she jumped the fence, heading in the opposite direction from where they would have forced her, towards the mansion rather than away from it, just on principle. She was fast, back in her element, knew how to hide. Very much in her element, as she used to climb the fence to the Lieutenant Governor’s mansion (Government House) at night to get into the “wilderness” portion of the grounds to watch the full moon, when it was prohibited to the public. Draped in her forest green hoodie that nearly reached her knees and swirling dark skirts she lopped easily keeping alongside the hedges until she found a place where she wanted to be alone, a tree recalling a Lebanese cedar with a huge base that gave way to many large trunks, easy to climb even in the dark, taking the first bower she felt was large and gradual enough to pass the night on. The view from the tree was magnificent, overlooking a valley with a lake in the basin, all framed by the boughs.
To God she said, “If I had known it was going to be this hard, I would not have come.” After settling from the anguish she noticed a creature cresting the knoll, which when apprised of her put its head up and snorted with alarm. She figured it must be a donkey. -A second snort. Two more snorts when she left the tree to approach it. A horse followed. The donkey was dancing about in a circle.
“I was right; you are a donkey.”
How tentative and careful she must be, much balking and side-stepping as she climbed the fence. After much hesitation and back-stepping he finally sniffed her fingers, desirous of only one thing, to be scratched behind the ears. She smiled at her success. The horse took longer. They seemed to decide upon a walkabout and she was surprised by the indication that they expected her to go first, which made her laugh, but they insisted. When they came down into the open meadow she gambolled about, dancing in a circle; they played at alarm, gambolling in turn and following her as she ran down the meadow to the bottom. They joined her on the other side to stand in a cuddle before taking to pasture. The donkey returned again and again, repeatedly clamping down on her hoodie in order to pull her over. It possessed discretion in that it nibbled at her hands, mouthing her fingers delicately, whereas on the hoodie it had a vice grip. She had to laugh in the tranquility of being not quite alone while utterly alone in the world. The world might not care but the donkey did.
She resumed walking back to the top of the paddock; once again they both followed. On the rise she stopped and looked at their shadows in a line. It was not the donkey that was behind her now but the horse, its head inches away from the small of her back. What a picture we make. When she moved, they moved; the picture moved together. She bid them good-bye and entered the gardens of the estate, finding a small gurgling brook to wash her hands. She nearly fell asleep lulled by the brook on a bench but lurched awake in the sensation that the air in the enclosure by the brook was too cold, returned to her tree and curled up in a near foetal position. It was too cold to sleep and she dozed, delirium thoughts. It was too cold but just warm enough for tolerance. She made the connect that the dream she’d had the night before had predicted how the encounter would “fail” and was thereby at peace with it. But the outcome of the letter had faced her with the terrifying precipitation that he really didn’t know anything; there was nothing to expect or hope for. He never knew and he would never know. There will be nothing. You will always be alone. All the letter could do was scare him, everything about it was a mistake, the extremity of emotion. Every time she would think of the “m” word she would wince.
But the night encounters had shut down the opening of the pit and left her tranquil. She was even amused by the trivial connect of how much a donkey appeared in Cave’s work and lyrics. There was an entourage of vehicles to the mansion followed by a circuit by security with a flashlight. In the pre-dawn two flocks of blackbirds settled in on the top of her tree in an ensuing cacophony; feathers floated down. She braced herself awake for a beautiful sunrise. Jet trails like livid neon scars criss-crossed the sky. To her the sun shone brighter in Ireland, too bright for her liking, searing the eyes. She did not know why that might seem so but had a theory. It was after sunrise she briefly slept. Lurching awake again she clambered down, donned her pack, re-tread the prohibited gardens in daylight, and went on a quest for "The Irish Sky Garden Crater", which someone (who’d also met Cave on Saturday in the local pub, what she would have given for that chance) had told her about the day before.
The crater was man-made of earth, like a moon crater but far more concave, deeper than a bowl. The entrance was a tunnel inlaid with stone that opened into the bottom of the basin, which was inset with a circular chamber and a raised oblong centerpiece to lay or sit on, not unlike a coffin. Her boots echoed impressively thanks to the tunnel, which was fortunate because it wakened a couple who were sleeping together on the much too tiny stone slab, and when she entered, they took their leave, exhorting her to lie down on the stone slab for full effect, “it’s great.” She waited for them to finish their observance in due course, sitting quietly on the step.
The effect was an oblong rim of green encompassing one’s vision so that the sky felt like it was 20 feet above, instead of infinite. She lay staring at it for about for about two hours, the only intermittency being the swallows, not leaving until it glazed over with white completely. -A beautiful morning. She wandered the gardens the way back, slowly gathering a small bouquet of wildflowers as she walked back into town and into reality. She eventually found a bus stop, with no bus set to arrive until 2:30 in the afternoon, three hours away. There she was passed by the same young man she’d encountered inside the bowl, and joined him and his group of lads (five in all) from Donnegal for an Irish breakfast. She was rambling due to sleep deprivation, which meant she was chatting up a storm and duly entertaining, which garnered her a free breakfast, -a good thing, because she couldn’t have paid. The wildflower bouquet only lasted so long as to grace the breakfast table; she’d requested a glass of water for it. Once outside they said good-bye, and as she turned to leave she overheard two girls getting into their car; one declaring they were heading for Cork. So she asked for (and got) a ride. Turns out one of them was planning to do a tour of Alaska, so she grounded her somewhat and handed her her home address. She spent the very last of her money at a Cork café while waiting for the last bus to Dublin, arriving around midnight.