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McDaids The inside of the bar-restaurant begins to feel like a uterus. —Nicole Brossard Igo along Balfe Street and into the side of McDaids. The guards are in the snug working their way through a troop of pints. They look up: white faces and red noses stop-lighted dead center. J o h n L e n n o n i s s h o t t o d e a t h I nod to the soldiers of the cross-burning party. They do not nod back and return to their pints looking for . . . I will not compromise them. I look to the edge of my jacket sleeve. It is unraveling to fringe. My nose itches. I itch it, am putting one foot in front of the other. The name of the dance tune is obscure. I have a place at the end of the bar with my back to the snugly corner. I look down the length of the bar. Yellow fingers point and mouths open in belches. Not too many people sitting along the walls. It is a quiet night. Someone said the people had moved on from McDaids. It was a rough crowd they got in most nights. Drugs!!! were known to be talked about on the premises though no attempt was being made to run a disorderly place of business Halfway down the bar an American stood straight as an arrow with pint within reach. He had a waxed moustache and an antique business. Only when he was very drunk would he talk to me. Sober, he needed no reminders of where he came from. He had a shop in Dawson Street, just down from where I always remembered anAmerican woman had a dress factory, she called it—more like a sweat shop without the undocumented Spanish surnamed workers. She had been friends with Silya, the Icelandic woman I met as the first foreign person I exchanged words with on my first journey abroad, in Reykjavik, where she was working as a receptionist in a student hotel where I had gone for lunch. St. Patrick’s Day ———— I talked about her. She would be on the porch of the National Library. Going home to Iceland to have a baby or an abortion. She thought to keep the child. Your American man was pulling in his gut. Not much of one to do it with if you ask me, who when I stood to pee had trouble finding it down there, shrinking it was back up into my own body. And glad of that. Am I close to understanding why Hemingway cut the balls off his guy in The Sun Also Rises? It’ll be a pint, I say, and the barman goes to work. A moment of nakedness, waiting to be made a complete man standing in McDaids. We had been sitting in here, Tim and me, a month or so before I went back to America, another year it was. Tim had a crooked back and was a serious student of the literature. He had more money and was even then thinking about devoting his life to the study of Wallace Stevens. I was drinking gin and bitter lemon while Tim was working on his pint, sitting in the late Saturday afternoon gloom. Cancel the gloom. The man next to us on the bench leans away from us and spews out an afternoon’s worth of stout. He stands carefully avoiding the stomach spill. It is a moment until the smell reaches our noses. Half-digested Guinness, perfume of the night when mingled with urine pissed up against shop doorways in Rathmines Road. At least he’d been drinking on an empty stomach. The man goes downstairs to freshen up, wiping lips and chin of the spill on the sleeve of his gray suit jacket. Carefully explained to me about the necessity of tweed in this country of frequent rain and showers: all different sorts of showers. Your man comes back upstairs holding onto the rail for dear life saying something about having visited a marbled hell and it was very wet, a wet hell. The priests were lying to us, do you hear me. The barman is mopping up the spill and is telling the man he is listening to his theological disquisition but finding it hard to follow in the ebb and flow of this more basic argument on the floor. If only you could have made it to the hell...


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MARC Record
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