PRELUDE - THE SEE THROUGH HOUSE
a child sings from an open window
a sweet song serenades an angry sky
escorting the sun home soft and mellow
so many years have now drifted by
visiting my old home here on Vatersay
Western Isles have their own genetic blends
I made the wee trip over from Castlebay
all that was left to see - two gable ends!
As my eye resists a lonely tear
I walk alone for a while on the sand
memories hark back to yesteryear
my Parents couldn't tame an untamed land
unrelenting hardships too much to take
the summer rain and then the winter snow
remnants of a failed dream in my wake
endless crashing tides screamed we had to go
but now I've lost myself in time's assuage
smoke billows forth from a happy fire
forgetting the gales and their howling rage
just the birds and lambs of nature's choir
but then the Cuckoo sang a confused song
Oyster Catchers didn't know which way to fly
no more childrens laughter all day long
Father leans on his staff and starts to cry
I visit my childhood home this one last time
bookending my days, a kind of crescendo
a strange thing I know but surely not a crime
for an Old Lady to sing from an open window.
PART - THE FIRST
New Scotland, old Scotland it was all the same
the clearances were a distant memory
and the two thousand mile journey that took weeks.
They settled on Nova Scotia's East coast
time and circumstances made them one flesh
as they embarked on love's difficult journey
they were blessed with a sweet child, Ishbael
they both loved her tho no longer each other
at night Ishbael would sing out the open window
she would sing to the moon, she would sing to the stars
she imagined that she was a ballet dancer
and dreamed of being such when she grew up
Mother eeked out a living from the tired land
Father spent most of his time on the fractious sea
She stood motionless at the front door each night
He checked the lobster creels under a salty spray
the spode China would be laid out on the table
strategically placed on the driftwood surface
cups stained brown with tea, coffee and nicotine
and on the outside with smudges of lipstick
it was the most treasured family heirloom
it was somehow smuggled across in the boat
it was passed on to them as a wedding gift
it was the only item of value they ever had
night after night Mother watches the sea
in the distant field, Sheep murmur like Bees
the bog cotton waves like a myriad hankies
as sunlight dissolves under cumulous cloud,
his bent over figure would surely soon appear
whistling a sea shanty walking up the track
but like a novel, his script came to an end
the storm weathered body was never found
outside on the lonely pebbled shore a Curlew sang
the net curtains rose and fell to it's bleak strains
wind rattled the windows like the beating of fence posts
they drank hot milk from Spode china for the final time
their family had creaked under the stresses and strains
that night a tall poplar tree crashed through the roof
storms wrecked their home like they wrecked their marriage
a perfect marriage of howling wind and frigid air
a lifetime of memories carried toward the sea
yet that old enemy was soon to be their friend
like a crush that would simply not go away.
Veiled by wrinkles Mother responds to the calling.
Larks cavort up and down in their unyielding plot
while they are bound for a far and distant land
the land was in their blood the blood was in their kin
the Isle of Vatersay, they were going home.
PART - THE SECOND
Old Scotland, new Scotland it was all the same
but she could not ignore the similarities
she looked across the ocean, it was all the same
two thousand miles of Atlantic anger
wind driven waves like a Tiger on a lead
but the tide died, the sea had peace like a child's hair
this reminded her of her kind Step Father
he would lean on his staff and cry when things went wrong
a storm took this house too, only they were not in it!
They settled across the water in Castlebay.
Time was unveiled as she relived her childhood,
withered fence posts and rusty wire that kept the joy in
brushing aside the nettles the hearth warmed her heart
window fames were as firm as ber Father's hand shake
she carefully scraped away the moss of time,
darkening seas awakened to her silvery voice.
She scurried along the beach with a youthful gait
reminiscent of her ballet dancing days
then the tide of her heart rose like a mountain within
down in the marram grass, she stared in sheer disbelief
her body all a quiver she picked up the fragments
with cupped hands tears were mingled with Spode china
she raised her eyes heavenward and screamed...
"nach eil sin italicired"
which when translated means 'how wonderful is that!'
tears rolled uncontrolably down her face
she stood still shaking the fragments in her hands
it made a lovely tinkling sound like cow bells,
two thousand miles of Atlantic anger
had softened the edges and smoothed over her memories.
She looked fervently at the long deserted croft
the wind erased her footprints in the sands of time
and then the sun went down.
EPILOGUE - THE END
when your poems fail to rhyme
when your watch runs out of time
when you feel your fate was sealed
we were on the same level playing field
when clouds slowly start to fill your sky
when the ocean gives it's final cry
life's pathways they did wind and wend
we were all equal in tbe end
we all had good times and hope'd they'd last
but time went on rolling on by far too fast
that lady in the window she's still singing
not about 'the end' but a new beginning.
It's surprising what comes into your mind whilst walking along an Outer Hebridean beach. This is a work of fiction yet it could of happened. Anything can happen on a Scottish Island, the Clearances were cruel but serendipity can be rich.