I can feel something brittle, something taut, inside me, habitually over-wound after these several years of adrenalin-inducing crises, begin to loosen in small spasms, the way a cramped muscle grips and releases, grips and releases. This is why I've come 600+ miles – a crazy distance – with the M6 and M74 stuffed with congestion, accidents, 'incidents', with lights on my 'new' car's dashboard flashing alerts, with a strong rear brake smell, with a sick dog, with utter exhaustion – this is why.
Next week I'm running an intensive writing retreat on the sacred Isle of Iona, 'Islands of the Heart'. Usually I come here afterwards; this year I'm appreciating the break in the relentlessness of my recent life as a prelude to that. And the little converted 'blackhouse' (ex-fishing croft) I'm staying in has all I need, in its simplicity, and more. (No, it's a little more sophisticated than this one above, however.)
It's April. The swallows are just in from Africa, and soon the whales and basking sharks will be back in the Sound. If I want to, I can spend all day watching the sea (and have, on many occasions). Later, the red deer may appear on the skyline, and the hares will be feeding below in the meadows.
Now, early dusk, titanium sea and a strong golden pathway out from the sun over the isles of the West across the sea to me where I'm sitting on a rocky tump, with miniature primroses and dog violets blossoming, and wild flag irises down below by the cottage door, and a wheatear, and all thought suspended; and I'm home again, here in this moment, in its fullness.
The last night I sit outside
till day has bled itself west over the islands;
Coll with its crescent beaches a smudge
under the horned moon, my hand
cramped on my cooling mug,
and the sea annealed silver;
and they don’t come.
I leave the window open. Bunched shadows
of deer veer past
wary, a hare nudges
the berry-blue mass of sky.
All night I ebb and flow; I am
the rise and fall of the sea’s breathing.
A god, when it appears
smacks you awake, does not tread lightly.
cresting the waves, I’m slammed
from sleep by a great flank, dark, shining,
ploughing the thinning air
and when I swing my feet to the floor
I’m plunged chasms down in that single
sonic throb, bone-jarring –
in freefall now, and all the walls dissolving.
~ Roselle Angwin (2004), in Looking For Icarus (bluechrome 2005)