I was 14 years old when my dad abruptly died. At that age, I understood he was an interesting and complex man, whose relaxed (albeit drunken) approach to parenting nurtured more of a friendship than a traditional parental dynamic between us.
13 years later, I feel I didn’t actually know him very well at all. It wasn’t that he was a closed book or anything but more I didn’t have the understanding or experience to ask him the right questions.
Like I said, he was a very interesting man. Born to a 1940’s Dublin, Ireland and raised both Jewish and Catholic. He fought in Congo. He had long curly hair. A beautiful singing voice. A way with words. Despised Thatcher. Loved to drink. He was smart, sensitive and troubled.
Today my sister sent me some of his writing. I have many memories of him writing, but very few of it being shared. He did on occasion, and had published some poetry, but was much more notorious for deleting or destroying the things he wrote.
I’m submitting to Anti-Diary a piece of his writing, it’s an opening to a book he wrote called Solais. I hadn’t read it before, I doubt many people have in all honesty. I don’t know when he wrote it, or whether he finished it. It survived though, so maybe he liked it?
Sharing this diary entry feels quite exposing, even more so as I semi publish my father posthumously. I didn’t inherit much from him, besides a few destructive tendencies and a birth mark in my left eye. But we did inherit his writing, and I believe it should be read by others.
Solais written by George A. Prizeman
A woman’s scream rent the night air. It hung like a death threat over the fields. Small animals stopped foraging and sniffed with quivering noses towards the sky. Tendrils of marsh mist floated in from the bog. The woman neither knew nor cared that she had upset the habits of the denizens of the area. She squatted in the birthing position, pushing and shoving as her first child struggled to enter the world.
Her screams had alerted the Seeress. She wrapped her shawl around her and headed for the birthing rondel. This small structure had been used by delivering women as long as anyone could remember. It afforded privacy and allowed any stillbirths to be disposed of by the Seeress in secrecy.
As she approached the building hoping she would be in time for the birth, a star fell from the heavens. Her main task was to name the baby, and she felt this star to be an omen. The rondel belonged to a small village in the Bog of Allen. This empty landscape situated in the centre of the land the Romans knew as Hibernia was a bleak, inhospitable place. Although long a Christian country the old customs were still practised by some. This was why a Seeress was being called to name the baby in the manner of years gone by.
She entered the small building as the umbilical cord was being cut. Remembering the falling star she placed her hand on the baby boy’s head and said
“He will be known as Solais an Oice” she intoned in the manner of her kind. In naming him for the star she was also suggesting a predestination, her calling considered absolute. Omens and portents were sought and considered as all important in the naming of any child.
Maeve the new mother asked “Why Light of the Night?”