MAP - The Making of Eric Blair's Irish Lullaby. A Cartography of a Heritage.
Updated: Nov 15
Irishman extraordinaire and bass virtuoso Paul Bushnell accepted to compose a tune from an old Irish Lullaby, The Gartan's Mother Lullaby, initially written by Seosamh Mac Cathmhaoil. Gabriela Martinez, a Mexican singer who dabbles exquisitely at Flamenco, interprets it with vocal nuances that will take your breath away. Siolo Thompson, a magnificent visual artist, shared photography of Irish Towers. The result is a video entitled ©Eric's Lullaby: Trail of Tears.
Soon, I'll tell the story of how this work in collaboration with Paul, Gabi and Siolo came to fruition amidst the pandemic. It was sheer synergy, inspiring, and revitalizing energy. It was a labor of love.
Trail of Tears is a video inspired in a scene from my work in progress - Sunshower [Lluvia con Sol]. Here is the entire playlist and featured links and videos.
Excerpt from ©Sunshower [Lluvia con Sol]
Chapter Four: The Sorceress' Gift
– a [n eternal] work in progress –
Eric came into his apartment with a still dripping umbrella. He placed it in a receptacle by the entrance where he would drop everything, and from where his hiking gear dangled—a cluttered, open locker while the rest of the flat was sophisticated, tidy, minimalistic, and with sober, elegant Autumn’s nuances.
“Alas! ‘Tis raining stair rods but the rain is glossing everything! And I come home, and
the sun is inside. Lucky me!!”
Brook mocked: “Sugar Daddy’s home! Would you like a Martini Mr. Bond. Shaken not
Eric laughed. He walked over to Brook who was sitting on a tall chair. He kissed them on their mouth.
“Hey, lass! I swung by Sullivan Street Bakery to bring some tasty pastries for us to enjoy
at breakfast before you head to NYU tomorrow. I’ve got your favorite! The Uovo Brioche with soft cooked Eggs. With the Vegan Prosciutto di Parma on the roll that you like so much. We’ll warm it up tomorrow?” His mouth watered so he swallowed hard.
“Gracias amor. Yummy! How was your afternoon.”
“Too slow. Wanted to come home to you.” Eric pointed at Brook. He winked at them. Brook put together their fingers shaping a heart.
Eric ran his fingers down his hair, nervously. He hooked hair strands behind his ears. He glanced at Brook’s laptop opened with cropped images from Cassandra’s photograph. Many sheets spread over the sturdy tall dinner table with sketches of faces and bodies of girls, some closeups or full-bodied in black & white, except for the red Jordans painted with a red Sharpie, and the gray denim baseball cap, filled with smoothed pencil lead. The inscription on the cap read, however blurred: A Little Tupac & Little Deepak in gray and purple.
“Brook! Beautiful, fine, and precise drawings!”
“It’s been a while since I last illustrated anything! I’d just doodled in class, but ever since I received the box, I've been sketching. Katie and Romeo gifted me a pocket sketchbook for my birthday. Crazy coincidence. I love this one because of the loose leaves. It was a graduation gift from my high school friends. Pero, I gotta thank Sister Agnes for my renewed inspiration. I’ve drawn a lot lately! I’m using Cassandra’s pencils!”
“I’ll Find a Way” by Rachael Yamagata’s Happenstance played low from Brook’s laptop.
“Christ! B! You’re the gift. And the inspiration came from Cassandra, not from that wretched Agnes!!”
“Who do you think could be my mother.” asked Brook, looking up to Eric who mesmerized, kept bringing the pages up close to his nose.
“Uhm Brook, I dunno, and these crops are from the girls in the picture. What ‘bout the boys? This one has lips as full as…”
Brook broke down in tears—their body was a Salvador Dali’s melted clock. They dropped on the floor like autumn leaves with their skinny legs folded to their side.
“Brook, Brook, wait!!” screamed Eric. He lowered himself down. His arms hinged to the side of the tall table, peaking to where Brook had landed. Brook was wailing. Eric pushed the heavy stool aside, which fell backward onto the wooden floor with a loud thump. He crawled under the table toward Brook. He put his legs around Brook’s folded legs, and his arms around their waist.
“My love! Cry all you want. I meant no harm. What did I say to make you break like this Brook! Damnit!”
“No. It isn’t you!” cried Brook amidst groans and squeals, “It’s me! I’m so fucking blind! Oh my god! I feel so bad! Why does this hurt so fucking much!?!”
Eric cried quietly, sniveling and kissing the back of Brook’s hair, their neck. He started to sing a Celtic lullaby; his Irish’s accent was pure. Eric’s body rocked, cradling Brook’s. Their body trembled and shivered without hiatus. But Brook’s sobs dwindled in a descending gradient, as they tried to hear the song against Yamagata’s “Reason Why” playing in the background, sounding as woefully:
Sleep, O babe, for the red bee hums The silent twilight’s fall: Aibheall from the Grey Rock comes To wrap the world in thrall. A leanbhan O, my child, my joy, My love and heart’s desire, The crickets sing you lullaby Beside the dying fire.
Brook and Eric remained quiet under the table, while the rain dashed against the windows.
“What’s lean-bhan. Abeal” asked Brook, stammering, stumbling with words.
“It’s typically spelled Aoibheall, but pronounced ee-val, and it means the beautiful. It’s the Queen of the Northern Fairies. Leanbh is Irish for child, and leanbhán, is little child. It’s the ‘Gartan Mother’s Lullaby.’ The poet’s name was Seosamh Mac Cathmhaoil, but he’s known as Joseph Campbell.” snickered Eric, timidly, shaking his head subtly.
Brook turned around to face Eric—two pairs of long legs switching places clumsily, heads bumping against the table— a makeshift wood ceiling. Brook put their arms and legs around Eric, and they nodded as to signify that they were alright now.
“They. From now on. Cassandra, or Casey. They, them, theirs.” said Brook.
Eric nodded. They both sniffed in vain—both their noses were clogged. Brook and Eric looked at each other and laughed—they looked like children with dripping runny noses.
Eric unbuttoned his gray vest and his black shirt. His Celtic engraved cufflinks dropped arbitrarily on their laps, prancing to the wooden floor like dice. With his shirt Eric wiped Brook’s face, he made them blow their nose, and after, he blew his. He tossed the crumpled shirt aside. He held their face between his hands. Eric kissed Brook’ s eyelids, their mouth. “I love you.” he said with a scratchy voice. Brook said "Me too" with no sound, between kisses, juxtaposing Eric’s voice. Brook held the black tie with pink peonies that Eric had loosened but not removed. Eric rested his forehead on Brook’s forehead. They looked at each other like Cyclops for a few seconds.
“Dude! I’m crying every day lately! You must think I’m a sissy.”
Eric snorted, “Me too! We are both sissies. At least, I’ve been told I am.”
“Do you think that I scared the neighbors?!”
“No. Soundproof walls. But if anyone heard anything, I don’t give a fuck.”
“Do you remember when we were having sex against the wall in my apartment, and the neighbors started pounding and telling us to shut up.”
“Yes. That was funny! But I trusted you.” Eric whispered.
“I trust you Eric. You don’t even know! But now. I’m hungry. I’m gonna cook for you!”
Brook crawled out, rose, and offered their hand to Eric. Brook pulled him up from under the table, delicately.
“What will you cook?” asked Eric, clearing his voice.
“That’s a surprise! I started it already! Hey. When I go to the kitchen, you can’t come in!”
“Grand. But I’ll leave. I need to go for a run.”
“But it’s raining!”
“Just a drizzle. Grand soft. I’ll be back soon.”
“It isn’t drizzling. It’s pouring.” said Brook pointing out to the terrace.
“Nah! Only spitting.” Eric shrugged his shoulders. He put on his rain windbreaker jacket and pants right by the entrance. He walked toward the main door but paused at the doorway to look at Brook.
Brook said, “May the soft rain fall upon you, Eric Caleb Blair.” Eric winked at Brook and opened the door briskly.
Eric closed the door slowly just when Brook began singing the outro. "God help me." he whispered.
Brook put their hands over their ears. Outside, Manhattan’s buildings were blurred behind a silver veil of rain. Eric ran through it knowing that he was permeable notwithstanding the gear. He suddenly remembered the very first time that his grand-mother, Máthair Chríona sang The Gartan's Mother's Lullaby for him when he was a little child. And an old, almost forgotten ache resurfaced squeezing his gut.