Pigeons, Sweets and Epiphanies

It’s Bloom’s Day eve. Two aged Dubliners are sitting on a bench in Stephen’s Green park with a thermos flask of tea. A pigeon waddles over. Its body is unusually slender. Says one lady to the other: “Isn’t he lovely! Look at the green on his neck”. I recognise the speaker. I saw her yesterday at the hairdresser’s. She has black and grey hair that twines its way halfway down her back. “I’m terrified”, she had told the receptionist. “I haven’t had it cut in years”. The receptionist checks her book. “We’ll put you with somebody soft … wait till I see now, with Sandy. She’s a lovely, soft girl. She’ll look after you”. Her hair doesn’t look any shorter today.

“The best place to buy sweets” she continues, “is the pound shop”. She pauses. “Do you not like sweets, Geraldine?”.  (Geraldine does not) “I love sweets. I’d go to the press now and then when I stick on the telly and get a packet”. Geraldine doesn’t think they’re healthy for your teeth. She shrugs. “It wouldn’t bother me ..  You’d get three bags there for two euro; it’s very good… ”. Geraldine throws a whole slice of bread to the pigeon.

“Who wrote Ulysses? They did say this morning on fm104 that it was the gay fellow … that went to prison but it wasn’t him. I knew it wasn’t him. “Do you know why it’s called ‘Bloom’s Day?’ It’s cause of a woman. She was Bloom. She was a bit of a princess”. Maybe it was the other fellow, Geraldine thinks: William Butler Yeats.  She gasps: “Aw, he was lovely looking. I have a picture of him, a black and white one.” “Oh, do you?” says Geraldine. “I do, I’ve had it for years. Where did I get it from now? That’s it. I done a course once. The teacher gave it to me. He’s stunning in black and white. I still have it. Maybe he was the one that wrote Ulysses”  

 She looks down. “He’s not going to eat all that, Geraldine, that’s too much for him”. Geraldine nods but suggests that it may be eaten by the others. She is quick to agree. “That’s right. It will. It will. Will you have another drop, Geraldine? The sun crawls away and leaves behind it the Dublin that gleams beyond the pages of Ulysses.