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Unrooted Ramblings

by Adina Stefan

Adina Stefan is a 4th year DCU student in SALIS. She was born in Romania and moved to Ireland at the age of ten. She spent a year abroad in Germany, and on the bus ride back to Ireland, she started writing down her reflections about the past years, if not decades, of her life.

Her story “Unrooted Ramblings” was awarded the 1st prize in the writing competition.

~ . ~

Unrooted Ramblings

For one to break away from the greyness that the Irish sky carries one is forced to search for life. Life does not just happen here, you must search and search and search; underneath sheets of sand, at the bottom of the sea or perhaps inside the mouth of a fish washed ashore. Folding sunsets nicely and placing them at the back of the wardrobe for those evenings that lack the promise of a new beginning becomes habit.

There is a Sky 

higher than the Irish Sky 

and when your very own roots

 catapult you

into the unknown, 

at first- you fly. 

.

And then you fall into this eternal slowness,

eternal slowness,

e-t-e-r-n-a-l

s-l-o-w-n-e-s-s. 

.

Slowly you swing,

slowly you dance, 

slowly you dream, 

slowly you drown. 

.

What’s a river good for 

if you can’t make love on its banks? 

What’s a sea good for

if it can’t sway you in its palms? 

.

What is this ash on the trees? 

And in my mouth? 

The only life ash can carry

 Is after you burn and die. 

.

Fingers adorned with rings, 

A little sway in the way you walk, 

You speak of coffee and romance,

Of where souls go when they die.

.

 All with an accent. 

.

Then something strange occurs. The search has stopped and the guilt sets in. You pronounce Ireland but you speak of Eireann. From Sky to Irish to her.  A young woman, a sad girl that dances with life and death in turns, whom one loves but then stops and says:

“love, love, my love, 

my dearest, I adore you but 

please stop dancing with life and death.

I feel I don’t belong when you do that. 

Here, dance with the sun”. 

.

Without ever questioning if that’s what she wished for.

It is to marry her off to a wealthy man with golden teeth 

when she prefers the man that smells of soil and wind.

.

She will weep and weep and 

Venom will drink, 

The sun will stop shining,

Her light will dim. 

.

Slowly, she will dissipate, 

Like a dandelion in the wind 

While the roots of her tongue

In the ground will twist. 

.

Once she is lost, 

you,

stranger,

Find a tongue.

Not your own.

Hers. 

.

The roots will get deeper, 

Wrap around your own, 

The words will come out, 

Indifferent of the language,

It pours from the soul.

.

Instead of an Irish Sky

You look for your own, 

You go, once more, 

Into the unknown. 

.

Yet another land,

Yet another tongue, 

Yet another culture 

And another soul. 

.

The trees don’t have a smell, 

Neither do the flowers

And you forgot the folded sunsets back at home,

In Ireland. 

.

Sit with the drunkards, 

Learn to speak their language, 

Smile at strangers and

Feel the detachment. 

.

The new, also grey, sky,

Starts spinning faster; 

On a bridge

You wait for disaster. 

.

Learn to wrap your lips

Around their sounds

as the “us versus them” 

debate comes to mind. 

.

You did it once,

You can do it again,

You understand cultures 

And yet you fail. 

.

To feel a connection, 

To dive into the sea,

To sing and to dance-

To roam free. 

.

The sky is the limit

Until it is not,

It took three sky changes

To find a place you call home.

.

An island that kept your secrets

And its waters bathed you, 

A land of saints and angels,

A place of “I love you”. 

.

Half way she comes to meet you, 

Life and death-

Her shadow 

You alone-

Cut without. 

.

No sunshine, no clouds, 

No fish washed ashore,

No tongue, no mother, 

No land, no soul. 

.

Dreams tell you lies, 

And you believe,

You are lost to the woman 

Who braids her hair fir-cu-fir. 

.

Your tongue grows stronger

before you slip. 

What is my tongue, where is my home? 

Is it you, or I, or you, or me? 

.

It is you and it is me, it is you and it is I; 

all homes, all lovers, 

all connected 

and disconnected

and reconnected. 

.

Under the moonlight these ramblings take place

 As I sit

 At a chipped-

White wooden desk. 

.

This land makes no sense, 

This house not a home, 

But my languages have grown- 

To love each other and to merge- 

A blend of my island and my land 

On these blank pages 

Takes place. 

.

No longer foreign, 

No longer at home,

The sky no longer different, 

Just a different glow.

.

No ambers burning

Under my feet,

No wings cut off-

No sad songs to sing.

.

I went to be a stranger, this time on my own 

And was showed

What I did not see before. 

.

Ireland and its sky as home.