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Found me sitting
itchy and sweating
in my kilt and knee socks
stuck to the plastic
of my aunt’s living room couch.

The adults chattered
over tea, and biscuits
(and occasionally Jameson’s)
about the state of the world
and other, cumbersome things
through thick brogues
and false teeth
and a perspective
so peculiar from my own.

The bleeding heart on the wall
resurrected an endless Mass that morning
admonishing me
about mysteries great and small.

In the kitchen
the pot roast browned in the oven
dripping juice onto its bed of potatoes
fragrant and faintly nauseating.

I peeled myself off the couch
as Uillean pipes mourned, hidden and mysterious
from the stereo console I was not allowed to touch.
Melancholy stories
of hard country life
or pretty girls
but sometimes lilting melodies
about whiskey in a jar.

My uncle’s sweet, curling pipe smoke
followed me into the den
as I sat, solitary, in a chair by the window
in the late afternoon sunshine.
The dog’s tail thumped a few times
The clock ticked listlessly
The people in photographs
stared back at me, unknowing
(or not saying)
as the unchosen pipes waited neatly in their rack
beside the tobacco pouch on the desk.

Waiting that afternoon,
it became clear
we may be here, or there,
or anywhere—
but blissfully, none of these is necessarily
where we are.

Heather Shaff

Heather is a book designer based in Boston who, when she’s not writing or taking care of the fam, can be found racing her bike, enjoying nature, or just daydreaming.

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