• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 03
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The Lonesome Boatman

T’was a decent aul pedicure in fairness. Aggie, inside in the spa in Doolin, is the business and sure lookit, what else would you be spending your money on of a dull winter's day only lounging about inside in the warmth. Shellac is the new Prozac I think I heard someone say. Let me tell you what else puts a pep in your step only a seaweed bath. Now I do like to have the seaweed baths without the seaweed ‘cause I have an aul allergy to Bladderwrack but don’t I ask Aggie to throw in a few little mermaids when she’s filling, and sure you’d hardly know the difference. The mermaids tails are slippery as saucy pasta and with all their moving in the water don’t they feel just as soft as seaweed. And I’ll tell you this much – the bubbles they churn give it the feel of a jacuzzi with the whirlpools reaching parts of me I forgot were reachable. Before the Prozac and long before the beautician came to Doolin that is.

Only yesterday didn’t she fill my bath and wheel me out onto the cliff path and there she parked it and in I got with a nice Merlot and a book of poetry. Paula Meehan it was. Every bit as rich and delicate as the wine that didn’t last too long. The poems made the wind die down and the rain cease and for a few moments I even thought that she was in the bath with me: Paula Meehan. I thought I saw her lift her porcelain body from the swell and perk her scales on the side of the bath facing Moher. I could have sworn I heard her incant ‘The Well’ in mesmerising Dublinese. I heard her say,
“I know this path by magic not by sight.
Behind me on the hillside the cottage light
is like a star that's gone astray.”


The Lonesome Boatman

And then I was submerged. I was seeping in words and water and the whirly wash of mermaids who refused to sit still. They kept moving and in their movement I started to see again. There was colour. There was Dazzling Damson shellac. And a rubber duck the colour of egg yolk. And I could hear something else. A sweet melody. A honey-sweet tune that uninvited hopped into the bath with me and set the bubbles a flowing again and the mermaids dancing and my knees jigging to the beat. The session was on in O’Connor’s and I could never resist the call of The Lonesome Boatman.