Giannon often traveled, and the distance between us was filled with private efforts, his tending to the news and needs of many túaths [tribes] and my studying the scrolls. Sometimes there were visitors who came, men and women of mysterious intent. When they saw me there instead of Giannon, they stayed and let their eyes wander all over the items in the dwelling. When Giannon received them, they whispered to each other and parted solemnly. Giannon did not like conversation and gave only small morsels of information about his adventures away from our home. When I asked to accompany him, he told me that I had to wait until I knew the primary stories and could present myself as an advanced apprentice. Soon I deduced that Giannon had some encounters with Christian clergy. Of these matters he was particularly secretive, but he learned Latin and brought seed to his garden which he called by their Latin names.

I did not swell, and Giannon grew agitated at the futile effort to place a child in my womb. He did praise my intelligence, and he also came to me with joyful eagerness when his work in the garden produced thriving new plants. Let me say here that I was never mistreated by Giannon, and only once do I remember a blow from his hand. It came one night when I asked him for that which he did not want to give. Anger is the sin that plagues me most and I am loathe to be shamed for my desires. When Giannon mimicked me with clever imitation of a woman's whine, I tried to strike him. He felt only the breeze of my hand as it passed his face, and in quick response he struck the side of my face. In the dark we were silent, both of us ashamed.

I never had any doubt of Giannon's respect for me, though our methods of working were not the same. I brought passion and impulse to all that I learned, or I did not learn well. He had discipline and a careful pace. After we had been together for two years, he asked me to help him transcribe laws and histories on the scrolls. He also listened with respect to my intuitions about the spirits of wild plants and animals. But he wearied quickly of conversation involving my fears and complaints. He became angry sometimes when I lay beside him or touched his face; he winced as though he were being preyed upon by an unsavory and inept predator. When he shunned me, I felt my mother's wild spirit in me and raged like a caged bear. I learned to like solitude when he loved it; but I never wandered far from a sorrow that grew in place of the child we never had. May God forgive me for my self-pity.

I did not know that the love of God is greater than the love of human, though still I wonder if humans are not the vessels from which we drink God's love.

There was one night when a storm raged between us and he said that he was not like other men. He did not have lust for women as other men did. He said powerful words, as destructive as his satires. They entered me like spirit blades because I loved the mouth from which the words came and the tongue that moved to say them. I loved the eyes and knew the soul behind them. I loved the hands that could make people and histories and beauty appear on a piece of parchment. I became full of shame that my body was too small or my features too plain to arouse him. I wished that my hair was the color of raven feathers, shining blue when sunlight flowed over it, instead of the color of rust on an old warrior's sword. I wished that I had the grace and discipline of a chieftain's daughter who rode tall horses and could not want a man as a husband before ten wanted her. I wished that I were as compelling as Mebd of Connacht, who cohabited with nine kings, who all loved her well. Then Giannon would untether his passion and grace me with it.

At that time, I did not know that the love of God is greater than the love of human, though still I wonder if humans are not the vessels from which we drink God's love. But then I am an ignorant pagan, only late in life surrendered to the new religion. And still I say, because I am weak and blasphemous, that if Giannon had given me full affection before we were roughly parted, and I had lost my shame, perhaps I would not have lain on the threshold of the Chapel of Saint Brigit and asked to be embraced by the Christian Church, allowed to share its worldly knowledge. Must we suffer, as the Greeks have said, in order to be led to a greater wisdom than the one we would have settled for?

Giannon himself encouraged me to accept the Christians and listen to their lessons. He knew well how sacred words and knowledge were to me, and he admitted that the monks knew many languages, that there were many words and lands and methods and stories in the world that the monks studied and recorded, more than any druid knew. One noon when he had been gone for many months to bury a chieftain's daughter in a túath to the west, he returned with a companion. I heard men's laughter when I was bent over a tablet, writing from memory the story of the prophetess Scathach, who trained Cuchulain to be a hero. While thinking upon her technique of severing an enemy's arm from his body, I was startled and frightened to hear men's laughter, for Giannon did not often make sounds of merriment, and he rarely welcomed company. I came out of the dwelling to see him walking up the hill to our home beside a man who had his hand on Giannon's shoulder. The two of them conversed and laughed. What made my brow gather in wonderment was that the man with him was tonsured. He was a Christian monk with merry eyes and a frame almost as small as mine, named Mongan.

I nodded a greeting, being struck mute, and prepared some porridge. Giannon had brought the ale that was given to him as payment for his part in the burial. We three sat outside, the monk and Giannon discussing the plants in the garden. The monk was young, hardly a man, but full of knowledge and skill. He had with him an editorulgatu [common Latin version of the Bible, based on a translation by Saint Jerome]. He taught me about the conversion of Brigit by Saint Patrick and told me of some of her miracles, including the conversion of water into ale. I opened my palm to him and challenged him, saying that his kind made soot out of soil and harassed the druids. I asked if his kind did not lose their senses when they cut their hair, and he asked if I did not worry that the pork I ate had been some druid in transmutation.

We made many jokes that are now dangerous, for in those times there was not so much fear of contradiction, but a love of discourse. Our talk was passionate and friendly, and we drank to Brigit until I was howling like a wolf beneath a half moon. Giannon said that I was a bean sidhe [woman of the fairies]. I do not remember clearly any other events of that night, except that Giannon did not lie beside me, and I had one aisling [mystical vision or dream] after another. Between visions of flaming candles falling into deep crevasses and rings of stone sinking into the ground, I heard the laughter of the two men. I also dreamed that Mebd brought me the severed arm of a man, and when I held his hand and kissed it, he became whole and his eyes were those of my mother.

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