Belle Chrystall with wooden mail-boat.

Prayers and faith, Bible verse remembered,
“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you
Will find it after many days.”* Such were our
Tiny wooden mail-boats, no larger than loaf
Of bread, carrying letters upon waves, to
Fishing trawlers just off Scottish outer isles.
Retrieved, fishermen opened our small boats,
Found addressed letters therein, oft to
Another isle, coins for postage.

Reliance on each other, we cast our mail-boats
Upon waters at out-going tides, after many
Days, answers returned by visiting steamer
Ferries. “Willow, how we mail letters,” Papa
Said. Block of rough-hewn oak on his work-
Bench, skilled hands, carved boat, letter-
Sized cut-out deep in her sturdy deck, closed
With scrap of wood, with words burnt-etched:
“Please Open.” Lo! Trusting islanders.

Opening mail-boat, letter and coins inside.

How arduous-odd our island life, thirty our
Number, island barren of trees, shipwreck
Timbers washing upon rocky shores, used
For thatched-roofs frames, window sills,
Doors, and our small mail-boats. Ships and
Lives lost, coins from hard labours, bread
Cast upon waters, realizations difficult to
Accept as papa another mail-boat made,
Safety of warming fires in stone workshop.
* Ecclesiastes 11

Inspired by film “The Edge of the World,” director Michael Powell,
Joe Rock Production, filmed on Isle of Foula, 1937. B&W photos 
are film screen snaps. Thanks for reading.

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