From the hospital window the fields were hedge-stitched and farms further away were divided by dry-stone walls. Trapped in an airless prison, this patchwork quilt brought me no comfort.
Visitors breezed in, rushed away, brought chocolate eggs I sent home, fearful they would melt. There, they were stacked in the front room until I returned and found their back shells torn
asunder; fudge, caramels and nutty centres plundered. Brothers will be brothers. To think I cried ten nights and days for home, longing to roam its open fields where rushes stabbed my knees on rambles for primroses. Better I hadn’t gambled the mammy cow’s protection towards her calf. Better I hadn’t levelled my gaze at the baby’s watery eyes. Better now back traversing country roads, arm in plaster mould, ear tuned to the graveyard’s creaking gate, awaiting the gong of the chapel bell, and staying the hell away from cows.
The project took me back to my roots in more ways than one. Sketching and dabbling in watercolours, pulling local landmarks from memory was liberating in a way that the textile designs I once produced never were. These impressionistic, loose representations of my childhood home, proof that I’m a country girl at heart, a romantic, a dreamer. Crossmaglen, infamous battleground of ‘the Troubles’ holds many unpleasant memories. Yet, I focused on a time when I missed home so much I thought my heart, and not my arm was surely broken. Home though treasured, has been both my making and undoing.