Well Wisher

Like black-smiths, thatchers and public hangmen, water diviners have been largely driven out of existence by modern life. It’s been many years since Michael hung up his stick, or at least took to throwing it for his dog.

But the change to remote working has re-invigorated the occupation, as IT professionals give up expensive apartments in Dublin to move to what they will imagine will be idyllic bliss far out in the countryside. They have not factored in field-mice, gale-force winds or the four-mile walk to the pub, but they have at least considered that they will need water, and Michael is getting more and more calls from those keen to find a well on their land.

For this he has had to find a new dowsing rod. Although all of the ability is innate to Michael, handed down through generations of genes, he still needs a good stick. Just as a golfer has a favourite driver or a snooker-player a favourite cue, water-diviners have favourites too, a piece of wood they feel at one with, through which they channel their power and confidence. And these have to be broken in.

Which is why we find Michael up to his thighs in water. He has his hat on, because heaven-forbid he might get wet, and is training his new stick. He is starting with easy stuff, the Atlantic Ocean, and will move on to rivers, then small puddles, then slow drip of a leaking tap until eventually his stick and he will be able to twitch out the trickle of an underground stream from two miles above.

Though it’s only the first day, he is excited about his choice, thrilled by its frantic twitching and its headlong dive into the sea. He feels this might be a good one.

It’s the moisture equivalent of a Ouija board.

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The image is from Simon’s Scrappy But Happy 8 Collection, the 8th edition of Dublin Simon Community’s showcase of artworks and creative writing pieces by some of those who access its homeless and housing services

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