‘Consolata’ by Nuala O’Connor (aka Nuala Ní Chonchúir)

A young woman takes her boyfriend back to her rural childhood home where her mother is now living alone after her father’s death. The animalistic details – her mother “snuffling after me like a resolute badger”, her partner “like a pet while he sleeps” – bring a physicality to the story that extends to the sense of place. In the graveyard she reflects that “the ecology of this place is sewn into me”. As she passes through ‘the black crosses to the yew tree’ and slips under its “umbrella” we learn that the reason for this connection is not fond memory but bitter betrayal. What I admire most about this story is its calm humour as the narrator returns from the “pantomiming” pretence of her past to the present in which “we drink, talk and ponder it all until the April sun drops behind the orchard and is gone.”

First published in Joyride to Jupiter, New Island Books, 2017. Available online in Granta here

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