Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 42 > Page 15 - A New Story by Alistair MacLeod: "As Birds Bring Forth the Sun"

Page 15 - A New Story by Alistair MacLeod: "As Birds Bring Forth the Sun"

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1986/6/1 (1166 reads)

one night, perhaps looking for answers, deep and sodden with the whiskey which had become his anes? thetic. In the half darkness he saw a large, grey- haired man sitting by himself against the wall and mumbled something to him. Some say he saw the cu mor glas a' bhais or uttered the name. And perhaps the man heard the phrase through ears equally af? fected by drink and felt he was being called a dog or a son of a bitch or something of that nature. They rose to meet one another and struggled out? side into the cobblestoned passageway behind the pub where, most improbably, there were supposed to be six other large, grey-haired men who beat him to death on the cobblestones, smashing his blood? ied head into the stone again and again before van? ishing and leaving him to die with his face turned to the sky. The cu mor glas a'bhais had come again, said his family, as they tried to piece the tale together. This is how the cu mor glas a' bhais came into our lives, and it is obvious that all of this happened a long, long time ago. Yet with succeeding genera? tions it seemed the spectre had somehow come to stay and that it had become ours--not in the man? ner of an unwanted skeleton in the closet from a family's ancient past but more in the manner of something close to a genetic possibility. In the deaths of each generation, the grey dog was seen by some--by women who were to die in childbirth; by soldiers who went forth to the many wars but did not return; by those who went forth to feuds Best Vfestern Claymore Inn P. 0. Box 1720, Antigonish, Nova Scotia B2G 2M5 Phone 863-1050 - Telex 019-36567 Licensed Dining Room and Loimge or dangerous love affairs; by those who answered mysterious midnight messages; by those who swerved on the highway to avoid the real or imagined grey dog and ended in masses of crumpled steel. And by one professional athlete who, in addition to his ritualized athletic superstitions, carried another fear or belief as well. Many of the man's descen? dants moved like careful hemophiliacs, fearing that they carried unwanted possibilities deep with? in them. And others, while they laughed, were like members of families in which there is a recurrence over the generations of repeated cancer or the dia? betes which comes to those beyond middle age. The feeling of those who may say little to others but who may say often and quietly to themselves, "It has not happened to me," while adding always the cautionary, "yet." I am thinking all of this now as the October rain falls on the city of Toronto and the pleasant, white-clad nurses pad confidently in and out of my father's room. He lies quietly amidst the white? ness, his head and shoulders elevated so that he is in that hospital position of being neither quite prone nor yet sitting. His hair is white up? on his pillow and he breathes softly and sometimes unevenly, although it is difficult ever to be sure. My five grey-haired brothers and I take turns be? side his bedside, holding his heavy hands in ours and feeling their response, hoping ambiguously that he will speak to us, although we know that it ' • 52'Modern Rooms 1-424-5200 .. .the number you can call toll free from anywhere in Nova Scotia when you have a question about the provincial government. Our lines are staffed by knowledgeable people who can provide general information about the most frequently used government programs and services. And, if we don't have the answers ourselves, we can tell you who does. Some enquiries of a more specialized nature may be redirected. The Province's new toll-free telephone line provides equal access to government offices for everyone, on a wide range of questions including such things as: • family benefits • housing programs • business registration • perk tests • labour standards . general interest topics Call toll free from anywhere in Nova Scotia between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays. 1-424-5200 • the number to get answers. iNuva ouuiia Government of Nova Scotia I Stop Smoking- Once and for All! Your local LUNG ASSOCIATION is offering courses and clinics designed to help you KICK THE HABIT. FREEDOM FROM SMOKING IN TWENTY DAYS consists of two easy-to-read manuals which guide you through a detailed, step-by- step method of QUITTING SMOKING. COUNTDOWN is a new program which com? bines the self- help method with a group setting. In 7 sessions, over 5 weeks, you can free yourself of the habit of a life? time. For more information about these or other programs provided by the LUNG ASSOCIATION call or write: t 106 Townsend St. Sydney, N. S. BIP 5E1 539-1923 THE LUNG ASSOCIATION (15)
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