Stones,” Ivan Shishkin, WikiArt.

Fire and stone, since ancient ages, burning
And unburnt, inseparable from island life
By hearth fires, winter we survive, light,
Warmth, flickering flames, place to think,
Pray, dream of spring days, fire as much
Needed as feared. Papa says, “Stone feels
Not, cares not, Willow.” Time-enduring,
Broken, waiting for use, stone fashioned
Into walls, hearths, chimneys, cottages.
How can stone not know it’s useful? Is
Papa right, stone does not feel or care?

Papa believes in living earth and oceans,
With him I agree. Without growing fields,
Harvests, fishing, peat digging, would we
Survive? One growing season to next,
We cold-winter endure, relying on earth-
Given peat-fires. Without these, papa says
Islands are abandoned. From fishers, we
Learnt life on smaller outer Hebrides isle
Is no more. Peat gave out, younger people
Leave for mainland, elder-folk too infirm
For hard labours, rigors of island life.

Yet, I believe stones exist in stoic silence,
Mossy caps, itchy lichens slowly growing,
Ice-fractured, they sleep for ages, rousing,
Realizing “I’m a wall now,” or “My flatness
Is a hearthstone.” Clothes drying place, tea
Kept warm, center of family life. Tonight,
I placed heated stone beneath my blankets,
Winter friend, water-washed, smooth-round,
Warmth night-lasting for cold hands, icy
Place under my pillow. Fire, stone, island
Life, inseparable since ancient ages.

Fire and stone, warmth and shelter, ancient and
enduring concepts to island life.
Thanks for reading. 

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