Northwords Now Issue 38

The FREE literary magazine of the North


by Catriona McNeill Courtier

I remember Port Mor,
the reddish brown cattle among the rocks,
the sun on the water,
the sea lice, sharp as glass,
raising spots of bright blood on my ankles.

After darkness fell
we would sit by the fire,
while the  great light on Du Hirteach,
patrolled the night waves to the west,
and I would beg my father,
“Tell me a story
of when you were a boy
on Colonsay.”

He told me, once,
that the islanders,
out at sea,
fishing for saithe or lobsters,
could sense where the island was,
when mist came down,
and make safely for the shore.

But strangers, without a compass,
could row out to sea
and when the mist lifted
find themselves lost
On a vast, featureless ocean.

Now it is the Colbhasach
who have rowed away from the island,
into the sea of the past,
Taking with them their language and their stories.

I am adrift.

And strangers sit by the hearth.