Dsonoqua on Lewis, The Outer Hebrides

By Neile Graham

She loves the salt wind. Her familiar. All else

is foreign. Even Eagle here is not her own,

the tilt of his wing hauntingly strange. All angled

rock and soft old hills, gentled unwild green.

Old. Everything here is so much older than old.

She's a cranky tourist here. Exposed

with no forest to back herself into.

There's weather here and plenty of it

changing by the moment. There's

the comfort of rain. And Oo hoo ooo

the lovely wind races over the moors

untangled by trees. At the stones

of Callanish it taps each shoulder

to make the constellations spin.

You'd think they were trees.

See it grab the moss on the Truiseil

Stone teasing it in the way she knows.

But lone children here are hard to

find and her basket is empty. Not

that it's often full at home. Nothing to do

but to sit and chat with the Old Woman

of the Moors. Exchange tales around

a peat fire, burning sweet but not cedar.

And what she really loves is that

Old Woman is made of hills.

It makes her feel small and lovely.

But this land needs more dressing.

Needs moss and trees. Needs Raven

to steal them some sun. Needs a bore

of eagles. Salal. What ho for the

transported tropical beach, what ho

for sheep and waves. Time to stretch

her hands to the fire and ride the

ranging winds home. How cedar

has missed me. Alder. Hemlock. My fir.


Neile Graham's most recent publications are Blood Memory, a poetry collection, and She Says: Poems Selected and New, a spoken-word CD. She is a graduate of and workshop administrator for Clarion West. You can see more of her work at her website, or in the Strange Horizons archives. She can be reached by email at neile@sff.net.