I Could Read the Sky

By Timothy O'Grady and Steve Pyke

A new edition of the 1997 classic novel about an Irishman in London, told through words and photos.

Eileen gets me out for a reel before the thick air closes in again and when I look up with her spinning me round it seems the whole galaxy is whirling above me.

What I could do. I could mend nets. Thatch a roof. Build stairs. Make a basket with reeds. Splint the leg of a cow. Cut turf. . . I could read the sky.

What I could not do. Eat a meal lacking potatoes. Trust banks. Wear a watch. Ask a woman to go for a walk. . . Not remember.

The way Maggie was. She could place a hat on her head at a perfect angle. She knew the names of trees. . . She could fill an emptiness even when silent. . . She was like a forest. The light never stopped moving.

What I could do then. I could forget my name. I could lie in my bed for a week. I could seek the darkness. . . I could walk without knowing it.

Ma is looking at the priest like she can see the future in his face. . . He is gone from this world, we are thinking. I think too as I sit beside his coffin that I will never again have such respect for a living person and now that he is no longer here I will not be able to stop things falling from their places. A sadness reaches like a clawed hand into my bones and organs. It fills the spaces between. It is heavy and strong. I believe this sadness can never leave me.

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