BELFAST IN OREGON
Since O'Donohue's in Dublin my favorite pub is Biddy McGraw's
in Portland USA. I walked in today and my picture on their postcard's
back, tucked in with free ones from pubs all over; I've always wanted
to send one to Arthur Guinness, since I'm drinking one, eyes nearly shut,
toothy grin, hair matted from hawking books eight hours in hot sun.
We came, after, to Biddy's and Gary Aker had his camera. A back-jacket
shot, I said. The owner took one look at the shot, said "That's our postcard."
I hardly knew what she meant, ignorant of the convention that places
of refreshment have postcards, no matter. In the hall by the lavatories
the wall's incised (by a finger?) with the names of counties, Donegal, Mayo, my
favorite Laois I can't pronounce even, never asked. I've taken pictures
here myself, one of the owner not bad, backlit, a parked car through the window
and GUINNESS backwards. The fiddleplayer tonight (after two days shut) wears a
black tee-shirt lettered "plays well with others." I'm tired from a rough week, on
my third Guinness my excuse -- though as usual came in for one. Cassie
goes away, says goodbye. I've been kissed three times since I walked in the door.
Is it sentimental, my fondness for this place. Shandeen and Pat on Halloween
dressed as the loveliest witches (really Druids), Pat's hat rakish, feathered, from Salem.
Hours of talk. People are occasionally above themselves. Rob says, usually,
the best thing said that evening. Miriam taught me to play darts. Máire keeps
us up on the state of political prisoners, meditates her autobiography. If this
sounds like a list of people you don't know, they'd be personages if you were here.
If I need wisdom I ask Zayde, not what I should do but describe the situation. If I want a
buzzsaw I ask Pat, who with her daughter knows where caring stops, but their caring's
bottomless, professionalism of the heart that makes this the best pub. Slainte.
Copyright 1997 by Gerald Burns