Nothing random to these landscapes,
not the dreams of the joujouka gulls
nor the ocean’s sleight of hand.
Determinism too in the passed-down
narratives themselves inescapable.

Like the absence of choice that
placed foot in the boat, eye on the
half-circle of beach with thoughts
of the far shore that will close
history’s arc in a symmetry of colour.

You set a heart Atlantic-black,
readied the myths that shattered
against Hirta’s cruel reminder,
as monolithic as your only option,
noisy with its bird-shat indifference.

A single tear is unnoticed
in a sodden land where everything flows,
hill burn to sea loch and the
endless play of the ever-drying sands.
So much water, so much thirst.

No matter the graveyard lichen,
peeled in a squall to reveal the names
just as you pass, unnoticing
on your way to the ferry and a
nausea put down to the roll of the boat.

No matter the ones who stay
because there is always the possibility
of return and we can be bold
these days because the digital brings
us all so close, does it not?

Nothing random in these landscapes,
the ebb is the flow, the buzzard’s
circles as sharp as its butcher’s eye
on the weathered boats that come and go,
the unease we think kept well hid.

© Tom McCulloch