Northwords Now Issue 39

The FREE literary magazine of the North

The Inner Isles

by Sharon Black

Someone withdraws a flaring match
from the stout red candle
and slides it, pink-tipped, into its box.

I gather the gifts I brought
and tuck them into my case; swing the door
closed on a freshly made-up room.

I feel suddenly at home,
blow salt air and chip fat over Baile Mór, stride
backwards onto the ferry

and stand upstairs to watch the island
receding, my first sight of the abbey
swimming from view.

I hand a prawn-stuffed sandwich
and a bag of garlic mussels to the girl
behind the counter. My broken

suitcase wheel rights itself
on Oban station platform
and I tip the book I’ve just finished onto a table,

hurtling towards Glasgow, a week of R&R
like an unread letter at my back.
I miss the island, miss my friends,

miss the stout red candle, the scallops
I didn’t eat, the rest of the wine,
the huddle at Columba’s Bay, the time,

the time I’m running out of, cooling
like the air vent at my feet.