IRELAND . . .Blackwater River . Three ancient Druids drag me to a cave. I watch, curious, as they strip off my skin to hang it like sheets on a clothesline. They jerk tendons, rip flesh from bones. Brain, guts and other loose body parts are piled onto a flat stone. An old man wire-brushes my skeleton. Another mallets my heart, like a cube steak, then blows it like a crimson conch, creating a musical note. At last, they reassemble the mess, are stretching the last hairy scalp skin the instant I awake. With my cheek on wet grass, I shake with wracking sobs for about 20 minutes. I feel the anguish of every experience in this lifetime and before. My attitudes on life, the shifts toward liberality, perhaps gentleness certainly have opened me to new possibilities and risks.

Finally, I stand on wobbly legs, lift the bicycle, stow the rain gear into the panniers, and click into the pedals unsure of my ability to balance. Carefully, I crank up the hill, heading inland toward the Blackwater River, in the general direction of Killarney.

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