Steven Gowin

Air India

June 1985, a bomb detonates on Air India Flight 182 en route from Montreal to London. The Boeing 747 plunges through Irish airspace from an altitude of 31,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean. 329 people perish in the crash. - Wikipedia

We light candles on the Christmas tree every evening, ever so carefully, and only for a few minutes. I am the Yuletide guest.

Afterwards we crack GlowSticks, phosphorescent green and red, but Christmassy. These from the Air India disaster; my hosts have collected dozens washed up on the strand.

This Eskivaude acreage lies far out in Southwest Ireland, nearly in the Atlantic itself, so close to the sea, that after a gale, salt crust must be cleared from widows, and so distant from infrastructure that the farm still awaits electrification.

The Leonards, dissenters of the war in Vietnam began this place, what had been a communal farm,15 years ago. They are the only and only remaining of the original residents.

The farm’s seven acres include an artichoke patch, a chicken run, a small pasture for the milk cow, a main cottage, and half a dozen out buildings. A phantom Citroën Deux rusts in the pigpen, and the jenny donkey is about to foal.

Christmas eve, we’re working on Carlsbergs and poitín. My bladder full, I head outside to the privy. Light from the cottage is a weak and yellow, otherwise the sky looms pitch black. A gale is blowing up. The fresh salty wind drives tiny spikes of rain into my face.

Starting back from my business, something gusts and flaps, curls around me, and brushes past towards the sea. I glimpse a garment, I think, rushing away, billowing, a snatch of luminous white fabric, silky, some kind of wrap or gown? Something Asian?

I lose breath. But wait. Surely, it’s only a sheet luffing on the clothes line. Back inside, I say that Christine might get the bedding in. But she’s hung no laundry today. Go look again, and I do, and of course find nothing.

We laugh it off, and over new drinks, the Leonards recount local tales of the murdered White brothers home from the Congo wars in Buta, children crying where there are none, the drowned Klonakilty fishermen, and more.

I lodge 100 yards up hill from the main cottage in a butchering shed converted to textile studio. For hours, the jenny brays and paces the farmyard in the hard, black gale.

And I, high in the weaving loft, in the wind and cold and dark except for GlowSticks, sleep only in fits obsessing, but as if under water, on aircraft falling from above.

398 Without Wikipedia Citing
439 Including Wikipedia Citing

Bio: Steven Gowin is a corporate video producer in San Francisco and graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop.

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