Mairťad Byrne














FEEDING THE SHEEP

COMMAND CENTRE BED








FEEDING THE SHEEP







The sheep crowd around one trough as the feed is poured in. Then they run to the other trough when the feed is poured in there, leaving the first trough full of feed but empty of sheep. After the farmer goes, they run back and forth like beads. There are seventeen sheep. When there are eight sheep at one trough and eight at the other, itís very hard for the seventeenth sheep to know where to go. It swivels its head from one possibility to the other. Possibility is a better word to describe sheep than sheep. They have big barrel bodies stuffed with wool that I can imagine many a cold Irishwoman or man eyeing and thinking Now how can I get me some of that? Their big woolly bodies are the possy part of possibility. They have slender delicate legs like stiff little dancers or women in the Thirties or elegant old ladies in button boots and obscure sheepish faces you could cradle in your hand. The face is the bill and the feet are the illy and itty bits. Now there are seventeen possibilities bumbling about on the cliff beneath my window. Piss is jetting out of their backsides. Some are chocking out pellets of poop like Chiclets from a machine. Seven possibilities leave the scene. Now there are ten, rambling around vacuuming up whatever feed remains. One smaller slighter possibility keeps headbutting the larger possibility beside it, maybe its mother who knows. Then it runs off and head butts at random. Oh is there food left in the trough? Head butt!  Found something in the grass? Head butt!! Let me sidle up here beside you and give you a good Ö. head butt!!!  Hah!  The little headbutter trots from pillar to post, caught in the loop of endless possibility, kind of wagging the woolly tail-flap over its damp butt.








COMMAND CENTRE BED







Finally I have found a way of life where staying in bed the bulk of the day is not only justified but benignly and well understood and forgiven. For a start itís dark until after 8am. Even at that time, a blanket of rain and mist may obscure any vista beyond a few feet producing a kind of grey darkness very similar to the real thing. Then thereís the cold. Now itís not cold cold exactly but you have to understand that the living habitations are far from warm warm. They may be adequate. That means the storage heaters which have sucked in energy all night expel it weakly from some time in the morning until some time in the late afternoon. You may feel like climbing aboard the storage heater and making impossible love to it with all your might but the way they are installed on the wall, like flat perpendicular plates, makes that impossible. You cannot get close to them. Plus there is absolutely no give or yield. So, another very good reason for staying the one place it is warm. Bed. Now thereís no doubt you have to get to do a few necessary things, related to bathroom or kitchen or even maybe putting in an appearance in front of a neighboring human being every now and again. Even the bed itself can take more or less constant tending to and arranging. The power cord may be too short to reach from the socket to the actual bed so you have to rig up a half-way house on your luggage turned sideways. There is of course no chance of the phone charger cord reaching that far and as the phone is your only means of virtual communication with the outside world and is consequently firing on all cylinders all the time very regular recharging is a must. You can get away with charging it through the laptop parked on the luggage turned sideways and tend to your household tasks during the times you truly have to set it down for recharging. Another thing is, due to a shortage of blankets, you may have to go to elaborate lengths of folding and stacking and securing in order to maintain comfort in the fresh and piquant climactic conditions of the cottage. Every now and then thereís slippage. You also have to tend to the back of the neck and how to remain comfortably propped. A laptop on the belly hours on end is not necessarily the healthiest thing but thereís little alternative, unless you twist your body or head into unnatural positions which usually also requires the aid of at least one elbow which dramatically reduces your ability to type, and moreover can be painful. It takes a lot of time to get organized, I wonít lie, but once you do, you can lie, in a different sense, as long as you want, while working, and remaining in touch with the greater reaches of the world, in your own bed, with the wild Atlantic raging outside countered by stubborn and brazen argument from the relentless wind, and the mild unease of the house.












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