The Secret of Kells

I saw Kells. I am still is a daze, a dream that was shared in an intimate cinema, listening to the sighs of the people with me.

It didn’t even spoil the dream that I knew the mysterious ink-producing berries were actually oak gall– which develop when a wasp lays its eggs in leaf buds– or that it’s called illumination because the gold leaf laid over bole reflects the candlelight, causing it to glow and appear three-dimensional. It made me want to play Celtic music again, to pull out the bodhrán, whistle, or psaltry. To Take my Celtic art books off of the shelf. To run to the medieval library at school where I know my prof left his Book of Kells.

I observed the spirit of the forest and reminisced about the volumes of fairy lore I used to devour when no one would come into the sandwich shop on the corner of Boylston and Tremont. I looked at the design and saw the Greek keys, recalling how the Irish were the greatest early theologians of Greek in western Europe. I saw the mound with the tower in the center and remembered grading all those quizzes discussing ringforts and motte-and-baileys. I listened to the stories of Iona and recollected the distinctive Irish monasticism, the penitentials, and how monks such as Columba and Columbanus came to the continent and inspired monastic reform. I watched the dark angular Vikings attack, and looked ahead to their future when they would settle in England and one of their own, Cnut, would be king.

And somehow, all of this knowledge did not break the film’s spell, but in fact, history was made more enchanting.

I am near another place, and it is sweet and warm and calming yet invigorating. I can feel it on the other side of my eyes, the warmth, and my eyes moisten from the desire to see it more clearly. And I strain to hear wind but am interupted by the chime and voice saying: “stand clear of the closing doors.” And so I unfocus my eyes in an attempt to unsee what  is around me. I speak my own words over and over in order to unhear the surrounding crowd. The chime. I push it from my ears. But in my struggle, the song is slipping, the song that draws me into the dream. Sharply pulled back by abrupt Spanish behind me. The warmth in my eyes and ears keeps me one step from the real. The point of heat on the back of my head is the dream into which I am trying to retreat. But I am facing forward, and the train lurches. And I notice…two more stops…and I feel my cheeks losing warmth and my vision losing its glow. The world is growing dark and sharp, and the amber edges fade into tile and cement, and one more stop. I just noticed that I haven;t been listenng to my iPod the entire time. The gal next to me has the most yellow skin I have ever seen. It’s glows unnaturally under her dark blonde hair, or is it the light? And my stop.

It’s times like this that I want to share the rapture, of a film, of a song, of a train ride that may never have existed.


  1. Skip says:

    Seriously. Poetry!

  2. Yeah, I was missing poetry in my life. Funny, since I study the troubadours 🙂

  3. Mom says:

    That was like taking the journey *with* you, Clare. Nice.