“Portrait of Young Man,” Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, WikiArt.

When ferry taking, island leaving, I oft stand
By myself, steel deck, engines churning,
Motion beneath my feet, few face-streaking
Tears. Yes, I love this lump of rock called
Home, Outer Hebridean Isles. Do I stand,
Watch as rolling hillsides mist disappear or
Turn my back toward dark home headlands,
Awaiting sea-rising Scottish foreshores?

At times, I do both. “Do you miss your home?”
Handsome man asked, making conversation
In blustery winds, cresting waves. I answered
With tearful nods, hair wind-tangled tinged
By salt spray, sea air. “Some are afraid to
Leave,” I replied. “Doing same for generations,
Fearful of change, fearful of failure. It’s
Hard to explain island-family traditions.”

All leading to backwardness, I thought, but
Daren’t not state aloud to non-islanders,
Merchant-man, proper clothes, soft hands,
Clean fingernails, concerned he seemed,
Nonetheless. Ring of wealth he wore, single
Jewel would feed, clothe my family months,
Live well for full-year, even through hard
Winter, long-freezing snow-swept nights.

Ferry docking, Scottish mainland, another
World it seemed, busy city streets, honking
Motorcars, stream of people, river flowing,
My acquaintance greeted by his family. His
Bags by porters carried. Startled, I recognized
Them. What would Papa say or do? What
Could I do but freeze-stare, hide until they
Disappeared. O! Laird’s eldest son.

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