Wednesday, 23 September 2009


We were put from the land,
three hundred forced to the shore.
Our crofts roared, thick smoke tearing our eyes.

We walked in silence,
hearts ripped, left in the stones
we had pulled from the earth,
the soil we had ploughed,
the burns and lochs we fished.
Our fathers, our mothers,
and theirs, and theirs, and theirs.

A woman broke from the crowd,
limped across tummocks of sharp grass
to the dark mound too fresh for a stone,
a scar in the graveyard as raw as her grief.

She clawed at the dirt,
grabbing handfuls to knot in her skirts.

Then came the others.

Old men, faces cracking, took soil
from the graves of the fathers and grandfathers;
angry sons, bitterness in their fists;
and mothers stowing the dust of sisters,
lovers, of blue-born babies
into pockets and aprons,
between bible pages,
in scraps of cloth.

Carried on the boats to Skye,
the mainland,
and Aberdeen,
Edinburgh, Glasgow,

We were a great tree felled.
Iron gouged at our trunk,
the stump burned black to the ground,
but through that dark, dry loam
our roots inched
and spread.

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