r2vyln3rdioj14u-rld0ska where mountains meet the sea: April 2010

Woman and Deer

He does not know what she holds for him.
She doesn't know what he brings.
But they have stood now long enough
Watching each other's landscape
From the window, from the hill,
To recognise the change that's taken place -
Something that has crossed between them,
A bar of light, or shadow,
Light and shadow, beam succeeding gloom
As light and shadow pass across a forest floor
Or firelight dances on the ceiling of a room.

The cold has brought him down, and loneliness,
And fear, and another instinct that is somehow
More than natural: as if from a common dream
The two of them had learned to reach
For what they expected least but most desired -
To touch a side of nature beyond fear;
As if in the half-light there's a half-remembered truth -
Of a woman's hand outstretched and cupping
A tentatively probing mouth.

She waits there for him, with her arm, her hand,
Her offer tilted from the curve of her breast.
He sidesteps, sniffs, angles his head, retreats,
Advances, all the nerves and hot-breathed senses
Of his nose and mouth alive; his searching eyes,
The shudder of his delicate approach -
All this is a gift to her for the sweetness
In her palm. And she has reached this moment quite alone,
To be with him, and feels her body drenched
In light and shadow to the bone.

Flesh upon flesh. He dips into her hand.
She marvels at the warm wet beauty of that fit,
And now it is with a familiar grace.
Slowly, so as not to startle him,
She lifts her other hand to touch his face.

Where Truth Lies

Maps, once made,
leave the impression of a place gone dead.

Words, once said,
anchor the swirlings in the head.

Vows, once taken,
waste in the shadows of a time forsaken.

Oh, understand
how the mind's landscape grows from shifting sand,

how where we are
is half on solid ground, half head-in-air,

a twilit zone
where changing flesh and changing ghost are one,

and what is true
lies between you and the idea of you -

a friction,
restless, between the fact and the fiction.


The Bluebells Of Scotland

Scottish tenor Kenneth McKellar passed away today. I was a child when i first heard his voice. My grandmother used to play his records, his and Calum Kennedy's. They're all gone now. A different era, a long long time ago, remembered with affection. 

June 23, 1927 - April 9, 2010

Oh where, tell me where is your highland laddie gone?
Oh where, tell me where is your highland laddie gone?
He's gone with streaming banners where noble deeds are done.
And it's oh! in my heart I wish him safe at home.

Oh where, tell me where did your highland laddie dwell?
Oh where, tell me where did your highland laddie dwell?
He dwelt in bonnie Scotland where bloom the sweet bluebells
And it's oh! in my heart I rue my laddie well.

Oh what, tell me what should your highland lad be slain?
Oh what, tell me what should your highland lad be slain?
Oh no, true love will be his guide and bring him safe again
For it's oh! my heart would break if my highland lad were slain.

He's gone with streaming banners where noble deeds are done.
And it's oh! in my heart I wish him safe at home.

Lady of the Loch

The legend lives on and it's told
by the folk around Loch Ness
She's been seen by many for o'er
a thousand years or less
An ancient creature who dwells
in the cold and murky deep
They named her Nessie
and they pray that she will keep...
out there

It is a mystery
how she's made it through the years
Though she's never hurt anyone
she feeds upon our fears
She's watched us come and go
and she's wise to all who plot
Don't try to find her
She'll slip away
The Lady of the Loch
The Lady of the Loch

She will rise from the deep
She will pass by the shore
'Neath the summer sun,
autumn moon so hazy
And the people will come
With their boats and their guns
But they'll never find our
Lady of the Loch

(Out on the Loch tonight...)

She will rise from the deep
She will pass by the shores
And then quietly drift
into the mist so hazy
And you may see her like
In the watery moonlight
But you'll never find our
Lady of the Loch

Steve McDonald

Old shoes

Don't throw them out, don't put them
in the rubbish bin. They're full
of two things, emptiness and journeys.

They're boat-shaped, but (you say) what water
is left for them to swim on? They're empty -
but what chapters of me are curled up in them?

Autobiographies, all mine
who walk the roadless landscapes
of memory. - But there are memories still to be born

and emptinesses to be suffered.
- Don't take them away. I'm balanced
between two times, between two loves -

times past and the ones I've still to meet
that'll give me emblems like old shoes, boat-shaped,
lifeboat-shaped, full of survivors.

Norman MacCaig


Skye: I'm back again
couldn't resist your wide horizon smiles
and the jewellery of your whitewashed houses
gummed to the summer-green glens and your sensuous coastal fringes.
Skye, I'm talking to you, can you hear me?
Only, you seem to be turning your back on me.
Sometimes you stare at me with your compound thistle eyes,
like some deadly insect, which scares me silly like leaning over a cliff edge.

Skye, are we falling out, or is it that we are spending
too long in each other's company…
tha thu gam chur às mo chiall. You're driving me nuts.
Skye, are you clouding over again?
It cost me £14.70 to get here
and I seem to have had this conversation some place else before.
Will it rain again? Will it keep on raining? Will it ever stop?
Are the midges coming?
Will we ever get home together again?

Skye, I feel you have a single-track mind with no place to reverse:
we're a battleground of passing places.
You see, I try and make sense of you, understand your cultural sensitivities,
but forgive me, I'm a slow learner.
Eh! I was brought up in England,
fed on greed and nostalgic spoonfuls of Empire
and now my feet keep sinking into your bogs.
God, you have so many bogs. All that water stored up there
for years, lacking minerals, and then what do you do?
Release the lot in a gush and guilt of waterfalls…
Skye – you obliterate me with your long nights

you turn my head with your sunsets
you make me dizzy with your giddy winds;
you know, sometimes they go on and on and on:
it's the only conversation we have for days,
and it drives me crazy.
And your bog myrtle perfume is making me ill.
I need a drink. More whisky. I haven't drunk enough of you yet.

Skye, let's put our relationship in some sort of order.
I know about the clan warfare, the Clearances,
the painful baggage of a previous marriage;
but can't we now tie our own individual Celtic knot with a little more hope?
Skye, you are not East Timor; Portree is not Dili.
I know, I know, it's not going to be easy:
crofting daughter is in trouble again;
she's being flattered with riches.
You've come over all postmodernist in Portree,
and Urban Nightmare, he stalks the shadows in the square
with the latest in mobile phone technology.

Locals are barred from hotels in case we embarrass the guests.
Hey, where can I get a clootie dumpling this time of night?
Huh! Kilt Rock tilts, it's laughing at me. You bastard! You looking at me?
Ha, aye: I know what you're up to, standing there, pissing in the wind;
and those lochans so full of water, glassy eyes staring into the night.
The fossils are moving again, I can hear dinosaurs grazing,
I can hear the primordial howl. The lava's flowing.
I'm feeling sick. I am feeling very sick. Sorry.
Tha mi duilich, tha mi air chall. I am lost.

Skye, I am not going to worry about us any more. I love you. Will always.
You know I really mean it, don't you? Please say you'll forgive me.
It's been a long night. We are both tired. I understand.

You're still having a rough time with your sons and daughters,
trying to sort out what's best for them;
keeping the Gaelic going. The best part of you.
Tha mi duilich. Can we just lie down here together, quietly?
I'm going to keep on singing your praises, I promise.
Listen to the psalms that silt the wind. Dè nì mi? Dè nì mi?
What will I do before the next war plunges us
into darkness, leaving only the starlight to hover over Rubha Hunish?
I will swallow my tears and drain my glass and reach for your softness
and put one hiking boot in front of another –
tapadh leat, tapadh leat, tapadh leat.

Mark O Goodwin