“Girl with Long Hair,” Gustav Klimt, 1898-99, WikiArt.

At sunset, I turned my eyes from sea to hills
Behind me, gathering evening mist, low-
Lying clouds reflecting rosy hues, ocean
Moving, fleeting figures, elevated above my
Home, Outer Hebridean isles. Within me,
Willow, heavy silence reigns, for I am alone,
Pipe-puffing papa gone, mother no longer
Spinning at her wheel. Memories of long
Church bell peals, island tradition, I visited
Each cottage family, asking them to attend
Funerals just months apart.

“Will she leave?” black-clad voices whispered,
As coffins were lowered into dark earth, sprig
Of flowers tossed upon weathered coffin
Lid boards, heavy thud of first soil shoveled.
“No, I will not leave,” I replied, last words in
Death, spoken to my parents. “This is new
Beginning,” I said aloud, childhood memories
Of farming croft, winter-frosted windows,
Hearth fires burning, steaming bowl of stir-
About, cups of tea, grateful hearts in prayer
By warm glow of lantern light.

Who could simply walk away? Upon these
Ocean hillsides, evening clouds turned pastel
Shades of blue. I realized, began understanding
Of family, seasons changing, old-infirm giving
Way to youthful strength. Island life continues
Within my soul, labours upon my back, hard
Pull of fishing nets, evenings too tired to think
Beyond food, sleep. For now, I relish summer’s
Lingering light, night twixt dusk and dawn, sea
And highlands surround, protect me. Like Papa,
I poured solitary drink, acknowledged how we
Struggled against time, against the inevitable.

Thanks for reading.  

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