View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Three dozen their number

Long reach the arms of the sea
North from the channel off the isle of the mists
High rise the mountains
As they impotently block passage

Reach to the sky in vertiginous heights
Grey in the clouds, grey the rocks strewn
Brown in heather tumbling down
to a narrow green strip by the water

Three dozen their number, now only two
A ruinous house, the outline of walls
The poorest of ground, in strips parallel
Draining the bogland for crops

Fishing the waters to feed the mouths
Rearing some cattle for milk at the hearth
Three dozen their number, now only two
Where the others go to?

Look for them northward, on divided land
demonstrating the asymptote
the more you divide, the lesser you get
until you're near nothing, in all possible respects

Another sea arm, do not breathe in
You won't fit in your strip of land
You'll be wider than that
Three dozen their number, now only two

Whilst thirty-four cram onto alien shores
And two come and go
Their land went to sheep
But even that was not enough

And the stag now roars his lust
Whilst being chased, shot and gutted - for fun

Three dozen townships teetering
on the edge of existence
on the edge of the sea
pushed to extinction for the greed of another

Napoleon's defeat heralded their demise
Peace took their livelihood
An end to subsistence
An end to life, more than through war

What have we now, in the derelict corner?
A rich man's playground
A rich man's money press
Soon churning out power.

Three dozen their number
Now only two