Friday, 15 August 2008

Shelling peas

Shelling peas. Splitting open reluctant shells. Their brightness always a shock to the retina. So green, it tears through to the back of my eye. I remember flying low over Galway, looking down from the plane window onto a mosaic of green fields so bright it almost made me gasp. 

I push the peas out of line, thumb them from their bed, ease them away from the shoulders of their neighbours, hear them drop into the metal of the colander. Against the mirror of stainless steel, the punctuation of black holes, they would make for a dramatic still life.

As the compost bucket fills with the strings and stalks and shells, I am back in a stone floored kitchen, years ago, listening to the voices of my cousins as we all pop the pea pods we just picked from the garden. It's the first day of our holiday staying with them. Still swaying from the long journey, and with the rhythm of the rattling train in my head, they sound like they are singing words I will never understand. They sound like the poetry of endless flat fields full of skylark song and dusty summers.

At the sink, I rinse them, tumbling them around the bowl. I hear the sound of a hare galloping across hills.