“Peasant Woman from Muscel,” Nicolae Grigorescu, 1874, WikiArt.

Who first walked island paths? Following
Banks of grazing streams, winding, mist
Rising into hillsides, steep-slope summits,
One circling above, below the other, less
Strenuous lower rocky route. “Who made
First paths?” I asked. “Without thought of
Island ancestors,” Papa replied, “We take
Them every day.” On high hills we walked,
Papa my hand taking, brine roughened,
Sturdy, not done since younger years,
Steadying him on stone-strewn course.

Hearts, feet wandering-stirred, Papa told
Of wild-turbulent ages, archaic tribes
Europe migrating, reaching Albion isles,
Sea-edge pushing to Outer Hebrides.
“Were they like us?” I asked, curious how
Strife-undaunted, they hard journeyed
Land and sea. Into clouded heights, Papa
And I picked our path, ancient ruins we
Arrived. “Wait, say nothing, move not,”
He whispered. “We occupy not their time,
But same island places, pasturelands.

Opalescent light, time backwards turned,
Woolen clad, spear bearing clans slipped
By, arm’s reach away, painted faces, eyes
Dark-intense, rhythmed steps, mother
Child-carrying, bright-beaded necklace,
Shells worn, height-ascending, obscurity
Returning, first trodden paths hunter-
Gatherers made. Alas! Ancient magic spell
Dissolved. “What place is this?” I asked.
“Burial site, tomb, Celts some believe,”
Papa replied, “spirits land-lingering.”

Mysteries past understanding, we waited
For first sunny breaks, blue sky, as if our
Time returned, our place upon, fleeting
Claim upon these isles, we lived like them,
They like us, sheep, goat-keeping, fishing,
Croft farming, waving barley fields, new
Appreciation of time-torn paths, island
Life mettle-testing, family bonding, for
First time, father asked for helping hand,
Strength transformed to older man,
Such paths we walked together.

For more on ancient Scottish inhabitants, including outer islands,
see this link. Written whilst listening to “Contingency Statement” 
by Justin Hurwitz, from movie “First Man.” Thanks for reading.

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