- Of Wishes and Fishes -
Falc's Story: The Second Course
(Port Cobh Oral Tradition)
The noisy port town's air was ever filled
with ling'ring smell of fish and brine and booze.
And in that town, a young man of no small size,
in silence through the noisy markets strode.
Through shaggy hair he scratched his head and mused
about the lengthy search that brought him hence.
"They said this was the town - at least, I think..."
Long had it been since warmth of home and hearth
he'd left, his fortune in the world to find.
His travels stretched from weeks to months to years,
a journey to fulfill the oath he swore;
to gaze no more upon his boyhood town
until his skill was such that any dish
prepared by his hand could set alight
the memories and dreams of those who partook.
Such was his goal and burden both.
In truth, he once did waver; once hesitate.
He felt the pull, his home to see again.
However, he recalled a certain dish
prepared by an adventurer, bushy-bearded,
and made with fish caught but that very hour
upon the quiet shores of the lake.
Surprise twofold the meal turned out to be:
A taste so unfamiliar to his tongue, but then-
a flavor fresh which spread throughout his mouth
with every savory spoonful that he took.
A dish sublime! As far as east from west
compared to meals he'd made in younger days
with fish drawn up from deep beneath the ice.
Meals made for his mother, in old times past.
He felt ashamed, believing full the words,
she'd said, his cooking hobby to encourage.
He was no master then, and still, not now.
That night, the young man, mind stuffed full with thoughts
could not find sleep, and so a promise did he set:
"My first act, come the morning light, shall be
to ask that adventurer to take me as his pupil!"
Then slumbered he, a pleasant hope in sight
that to his home and mother he'd return;
a savory dish true witness to attest
the height to which his cooking skill had grown.
His dreams were not to be - for when he rose
the man whose tutelage he sought had gone.
For months he traveled, asking here and there,.
to find the homeland of the man he sought.
And, barely, he had made it to that port
where, some had said, the traveler was from..
Though tired from his journey, still his joy
was writ upon his face with smile wide;
with confidence he stepped into the pub
which rose before him, filling all his gaze.
And there he sat: the bearded man he'd sought,
relaxing in the tavern's corner booth.
The adventurer's reply came hoarse and heavy,
when asked the secret to his cooking skill.
"Your hands are far too rough for work this fine.
Unsuitable for julienning meat."
His eyes welled up with tears; the young man knelt
before the 'venturer to plead his need
and grasped with shaking hands the trouser cuffs
of that man, as he watched in puzzlement.
He dare not raise his head, for what if, then,
he was rejected outright? But still, hope
rose in his heart that his sincerity
would, through his desperation, be conveyed.
At last, a soft voice through the silence broke.
"Young man, you've traveled far. What is your name?"
"I'm Falc." His answer, humble. Simple. Straight
"A chance I'll give, for your tenacity.
So follow me, and do not disappoint."
* * * * * * *
A long time passed, as year gave way to year.
'Tis said that, at some port town in Uladh,
a young man ran a fish shop with panache.
His nimble fingers brought the knives alive,
and all who ate his cooking were amazed.
And even to this day, his shop remains,
still drawing those with culinary dreams,
so those whose girth and stature aid them not
can, like that man, be more than what they seem.