, , , ,

Statue of Mannanan Mac Lir on the Isle of Man.

“I’m sorting,” Sagacia said.  “See: I wrote the name of the magic objects people sent to Groping in Gretna on index cards, and now I’m sorting them into categories.”

“Honestly,” Simplia said. “Sometimes you remind me of Robin Williams at the beginning of Dead Poets’ Society.

“Why, thank you, Dear,” said Sagacia.  “I do love poets, you know. Living and deceased!”

Simplia hesitated, then offered, “I’ll help if you want me to.”

Sagacia smiled and handed her some cards.

“‘Hayfork.’” Simplia read. “That would go…”

“Right here,” Sagacia interrupted, pointing. “Under ‘Tools and Weapons,’ see? With ‘Hammer’ and ‘Sword.’”

Simplia added her card to the column, then said, “‘Salt Grinder.’ Don’t tell me!”

She studied the lists and found “Kitchen Items/Food.”  “Right here,” she said, placing the card under ‘Chalices/Goblets,’ ‘Kettles,’ ‘Porridge Pots,’ ‘Cauldron, ‘Tables,’ Apples,’ ‘Walnuts,’ and ‘Eggs.’”

“And I’m putting ‘Comb’ right here under ‘Apparel and Grooming,'” Sagacia said, neatly placing her card under ‘Red Cap,’ and straightening the rest of the list: ‘Red Shoes,’ ‘Cape,’ ‘Ring’ ‘Looking Glass,’ ‘Spinning Wheel,’ ‘Spindle,’ ‘Sack’ and ‘Comb.’ Then she rearranged them in alphabetical order.

“Aren’t we going to send everyone’s replies to Groping in Gretna, anyway?” Simplia asked, slipping “Wooden Whistle” under “Flute.”

“Oh, yes,” Sagacia replied. “I just thought I’d write a cover letter with them all categorized for him.”  She placed her “Rag Doll” card in the “Other” column, above “Wand.”

At that moment, the Simpletons heard the mailbox lid fall shut, and Simplia sprinted to the door.

“MI, MI, MI, MI, MI!” she sang as she re-entered the room.

“Michigan!” she intoned. “It’s from Yvonne Healy,”

She tore open the envelope and read:

Now that Thor is mentioned, I feel comfortable talking about Manannan MacLir and his crane bag. Manannan is the Irish god of magic, the sea, music, horses and a bit of a trickster. His crane bag is one of the great treasures of Ireland along with a spear which once unsheathed cannot rest until it has killed, and a white horse who can run faster than the wind, through time, and under the waves. The crane bag has the power to heal. It is made of the skin of a crane and inside are the bones of Aoife, the lost wife of Manannan. He also has a magical sword which he lends to various heroes as he also lends these other magical objects. But, much as I love my husband, I think carrying around the bones of your dead spouse is creepy, even if they are magic.
There’s also the Dagda’s (great earthy father) cauldron which can feed as many as wish to eat. But that’s another story.

“O-oh, ‘Crane Bag,’” Sagacia wrote out. “And S-p-e-a-r. Here, put these in the right place.”

Simplia sorted the new cards, then Sagacia handed her “White Horse” and put a tally mark under “Cauldron” and “Sword.”

“I think we’ve got it at last!” Sagacia announced proudly. “Every last talisman and magic item there is!”

“But what about Aladdin’s lamp, and the magic fish who grants three wishes, and straw that turns everything it touches to ice?” Simplia itemized quickly. “And flying carpets? and the Pied Piper’s bagpipes?”

A horrified look came to Sagacia’s face. “Oh, no!” she wailed. “I thought we had everything!” She picked up an index card and her magic marker and wrote out “Lamp,” then “Carpet.” “I am nothing if not persistent!” she said. “Start a new column. ‘Household items.'”

Simplia complied. “Let’s move ‘Spinning Wheel’ and ‘Spindle’ over here, too,” she advised. “They fit there better than with “apparel.”

“Okay, I guess,” Sagacia said, writing busily.

As Sagacia finished each card, Simplia silently placed it with its kind: “Straw” with “Wood” and “Pebbles,” “Fish” with “Golden Donkey” and “White Horse,” and “Bagpipe” with the other musical instruments.

When she looked back for more, Sagacia was sitting perfectly still. She’d stopped writing. Her eyes were glazed, and her face looked stunned and grey.

“Simplia?” she asked quietly.  “A little while ago when you mentioned Dead Poet’s Society, did you mean where Robin Williams dissected a poem and graphed it along an axis he drew on the blackboard? As though a poem were something a person could calculate? not art at all?”

“Oh!” said Simplia.  “Well, I just meant,…” she hesitated and looked over at her friend. Sagacia appeared crestfallen.

“I mean, I just was thinking that…”

A tear welled up in Sagacia’s eye as she surveyed her neatly printed cards, all in straight columns and rows, a perfect chart laid out on the table.

“Well, I just meant,…” Simplia said, “Your haircut!” she shouted, a little too enthusiastically. “It’s a lot like Robin Williams’ style, you know. The way you do it!” She eyed her friend hopefully. “That’s what I meant. Your hairstyle. It’s just like his.”

“Oh,” Sagacia said, smiling weakly.  “A bit, perhaps.”

“You know, we don’t have to send Groping in Gretna every last magic object in the whole Marchen,” Simplia said soothingly. “Just a range of samples to give him ideas. And this is a great collection, this list from our magical friends! I’m sure that’s all he wanted, and I know he’ll appreciate your categorizing them for him.”

“Really?” Sagacia asked.

“Really!” Simplia affirmed. “I’m sure of it! Sure as shootin’! Good as gold!”