“Forest of Fontainebleau,” Camille Corot, circa 1832, WikiArt.

During sea-storms, each cottage is a ship,”
Papa said, windblown rain door-pounding,
Water seeping round window frames, earth-
Filled double stonewall, bulwark against
Late-autumn gales, long three days, nights,
Flickering candlelight, we daren’t venture
Outside, water, dirty rivers path-running.
“What about sheep?” I, Willow, asked, peat
Pony Beven storm-weathering in his shed,
Pile of hay, water-dripping, blinking eyes.

“But the sheep?” I asked again. Once dark
Clouds descended, we had no time to barn
Them, trails and creeks flooded, huddling
Herds cold-suffered, no cottage lifeboat.
“Fleece is thick, been that way since ancient
Days,” Papa offered, pipe-puffing. “Took to
Rocky heights, shelter against cold rain.”
Yet, I feared them bog-lost, water rising, too
Dangerous for best dogs, island-wandering
Shepherds. Thus, we storm-waited.

Fourth day, we ventured out, gravel roads cut
Deep, streams swollen, lower trails flooded,
Shepherding heights mist shrouded, stone-
By-stone, Beven and I picked upward way.
Spear carrying figure we perceived, hair
Adorned with beads, shells, taking higher
Paths, stone leaping, our following ensured.
“Who are you shepherdess? My question
Ignored, she stepped into foggy depths,
Bells we heard, bleating sheep huddling.

Alas! Shallow cave I did not know, all our
Sheep safe harbour, shepherdess heights
Watching, tapped her staff against rock
Face, Celtic inscriptions revealed: “Name
Of Caoimhe, Tribe of Fachtna,” cave their
Shelter, fort-guarding place. Sunny breaks,
Patch of blue, into rising mists, Caoimhe
Dissolved. Such accounts my parents told,
Father’s nodding response, “Like then and
Now, Willow, each dwelling is ship against
Sea-storms, ravaging outer isles.”

Thanks for reading.

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