The sun broke through the clouds over Renvyle, as if on cue. The breeze softened and the sky opened to a brilliant blue. I stood at the edge of the grass-covered cliff in a tuxedo jacket, the rocky shore far below, the waves crashing against the rocks, the dark Atlantic behind me.
In front, green pastures sloped gently down to a rock wall, hedgerows, a farmhouse, an old stone mill. To my right, white sheep grazed quietly in the sun. To the left, in the distance, the ruins of an Irish castle stood like the barely remembered dream of a little girl.
She stepped from the shadow of the castle, my love, my life, my beautiful bride, in her flowing white dress. I asked the minister to drive her, but she has her own mind, and she walked, the minister beside her, all the way up the long rocky road. She lifted the flowing dress, every stitch sewn by her grandmother’s loving hands, over the puddles, and steadily climbed the winding road.
Her gaze did not waver as she approached, as she crossed the dew-soaked field straight up to me, her hair wrapped perfectly in braids, her ivory skin, her clever smile, her green eyes sparkling in the sun. She laid the flowers at her feet that I picked that morning, and took my hands, and whispered something, only for me, as the minister opened his Bible.
We faced him, and beyond him the rolling ocean, and he said a blessing over us, and I read to her from the Song of Solomon, and she read from the New Testament. The minister led us in vows, and we held up our silver rings, and with the cliff and the ocean and the blue skies all around her, I kissed my wife.
As we offered a Gaelic prayer, deep peace of the running wave, a small crowd climbed over the rock wall and hurried up the hill to us, the family from the farmhouse below. They surrounded us and cheered and hugged us and the little woman wiped her smiling eyes.
We went back down the hill, all of us, to celebrate beneath the watchtower. Our host came out with a marvelous gift, a painting in her own hand of the castle, the ocean, and the grass-covered cliff—our windswept alter.
I am standing now in the sand, in the thatched-roof shade, with a sweet hot coffee. The island of Cephalonia rises to mountains behind me, and the beach slopes under my feet down to the wine-dark sea.
I am watching her dive in and out of the waves. She dives and goes under with the wave for a long time, and then dives again, and now is coming out, walking up the beach in the white sand, the blue Mediterranean behind her, droplets of water glistening on her ivory skin. She shakes the water from her tremendous curls, my beautiful wife, and kisses my neck, and sings softly against my ear, the love of my life, the song of songs.
Thank you Mary Nee and family, Jack, Amy, Sinead, and Kirsty, for sharing your beautiful farm with us, and for the great photos. Thanks Dee Walsh for your painting; it will always have a special place in our home. And thank you so much Reverend Peter Berrill. You are man of faith and you are a poet.