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XOXO – Lauren Foley & Stephanie Ní Thiarnaigh

The bean an tí told me there’d be no uachtar reoite for me, because ice-cream is only for brave little boys who don’t tell fibs or keep secrets. I laugh, loud, fast, and jive and joke of slurry and the stonky stink of country airs. She gave me a sharp look and said it’s not a sin if you tell me i nGaeilig. I didn’t get inquisitions like this in my last group home. I sing over and over: I do not understand. Cha dtuigim. Cha dtuigim. Cha dtuigim!! She said: Éist liom más mian leat é! Is gasúr maith tú. Is gasúr deas tú. Is gasúr galánta tú. Iontach galánta. I scoot out of her teach and rush deep down into the glen. She called after me: We love you. We love you. We love you! Tá grá againn duit. Is breá liom tú. Páiste mo chroí! Tá grá agat! I scamper away and climb over cnocs and scurry up carraigs. Tá mé ag dul go dtí an Ice Age! Tá mé ag dul go dtí an glacier! I holler: Búir!!! into this well of sound bubbling up from the sharp twist far inside of me. Is cuma liom! Is cuma liom! Is cuma liom! But … but … but …, she said, I heard her, I heard her, she did say: Tá tú iontach galánta. You are very beautiful. Galánta. Mise. Galánta. Mise. Galánta. Mise. Beautiful. Me. I drink rainwater from buttercups and suck nectar from clovers I gobble down handfuls of dirt, muck drops from my face, plop, plop, plop, plop, plop – globs of chocolate chipped ice-cream fall splitter splatter splitter splatter spit spit spit them all out onto the earth. I dance on the lichen. I sing to the birdsong. I scatter the mice in my rush. I blow kisses up high to hawks in the skies. Mwah! Mwah! Mwah! Mwah! Mwah! XOXO! I slip slide along rocky banks slicked with greening, browning and reddening moss. The tree stumps and long grasses cry and whistle, whistle and cry. Loud and happy. Happy loud loud cries. Play snowboarding down up drumlins the other side of the rainbow with my one wide mouth open, huge, massive, gaping, tongue out and a beautiful pride of colours: red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue. Runrunrunrunrunrun and tumble to break speed and brace myself here now in the far beyond in the face of the wind’s edge. Galánta. Galánta. Galánta. Dearg agus buí agus bándearg agus glás, corcairghorm agus flannbhuí agus gorm. Above me. Snow rainbow. Sneachta falling deep down into my throat. She said: We love you. Love. I am loved.