FINDING NEW VOICES
DEFINING NEW GENRES
Guest Blog by Eden Burning author Deirdre Quiery
I love the courage of salmon. They leave the fresh water flow to enter the salty sea. I admire their wisdom. They know when to turn around and return to the river of their birth. Spawning. Eggs placed with new life into the gravel of the river bed.
I had never thought about how they die. The majority of males flop one on top of another, exhausted after their battles to procreate. Soft organic walls of flesh, dropping one on top of another.
The salmon figures strongly in the myths of Ireland such as the myth of “The Salmon of Knowledge” from the adventures of Fionn MacCumhaill. In this myth an ordinary salmon eats nine hazelnuts which have fallen into the Well of Wisdom from nine hazel trees surrounding the well. By doing so the salmon gains access to all of the world’s wisdom. The person who eats from the flesh of this salmon gains this wisdom.
The poet Finn Eces spends seven years fishing for this salmon. He catches it and gives it to Fionn, his servant to cook with orders not to eat it. Fionn touches a blister on the salmon as he tests to see if it is cooked. The blister bursts open, splashing Fionn’s thumb with fish oil. He does what any other person would do, sucks his thumb to relieve the pain. In doing so he receives the wisdom of the world.
I have gone downstream. Like many others I have left the land of my birth. I have adventured into the seas of different countries and cultures. Recently I turned around to go back – I swam once again into the Well of Wisdom of the College of Mercy.
I stumbled through the front door, feeling all of the disorientation of an eleven year old child. I was welcomed warmly by the Principal. Over a cup of coffee we talked about life as it is now for the pupils. As I looked at him I thought that no matter what challenges the corporate world may face, nothing compares to his task of forming new lives within each pupil. Each one goes through the stages of alevins, frys and parrs and then salmon – down the river of life into the sea of life.
I limped curiously into the Assembly Hall which looks exactly as it did all those years ago. The walls must have been painted but nothing else has changed. I had to walk on stage. I remembered falling off the very same stage in a Christmas Play while dancing to “Tip toe through the tulips”. Everyone rushed towards me as I lay too embarrassed to move. I waited for the world to move around me to take me back into it. As I climbed the stairs nearly forty years later, I firmly grasped the hand rail. I was aware that the pupils who had gone before had bounced lightly, energetically up the stairs. I felt my oldness as I took the podium to talk. The doors I had passed through into the hall had not changed but I had.
I spoke my words in a strangely quivering voice. I looked into the eyes of each pupil receiving a prize – feeling their total potential trembling like an Alvin into Fry. My body shook with wonder at the teachers and how they made this passage possible, turning the Fry into Parr feeding on morsels of wisdom to prepare them for entry into the sea of mystery and adventure and then like myself at some point to return. Going back. Coming home.