Thus Drag Me Down Beneath the Golden Moon

Faithful I was, as the briar rose entwines the yew tree. Steadfast I was, as the corn bunting amidst the sea plantain. Forgiving I was, as the crags of Heisker in the Sound of Monach. Give or take a year or two.

In the time before strife when man was merely set against nature, against the natural order of the islands, we had our summers: the years when every burn ran beneath the shadow of the eagle, every blade of grass bent against the leg of the ram and the ewe, when the majesty of the cliff faces were surpassed only by the crown of the stag.

We ran betwixt the pantry door and the crofters' walls with less thought than a gannet soaring over a shoal of silver darlings, between the old stables where Tam the gardener waxed his beloved jalopy religiously every evening before the Sabbath, between the crumbling stonework of the outhouses with their rabbit skulls and milk pails and whittled tines.

In time we found a common flesh, and a willingness to act. We waited for hesitation but there was none. Beneath the stained skylight in the old summerhouse we moved with our heartbeats, our clothes our hair our skin bleached yellow under the gaze of the full moon. We crucified our innocence on creaking stools, the bonhomie of rotting fabric seats, spilling our compassion on broken flagstones as the quern does the grist.

Yet, in our angelhood, our blissful ignorance, limbs entangled in brotherhood as the oak above the sett, we were betrayed. For the sheep must bleat and the good shepherd knows of his flock and is tender in his knowingness. And so it was with our love.

So they took you from me, cleaved the 'us'. Then war came with the next harvest and took you even further way. To the far cities with their tarmacadamed roads, and their regimented homes, and their sickly air heavy with soot. And you exchanged my embrace and the open fields for a metal cage which flew and spat fire.

But the corncrake still shrieked in the stubbled machair, the peat smoke still drifted from the chimneys of the blackhouses, and the little fishing boats out from Scolpaig still bobbed beneath a charge of wings.

And every Sunday when the minister drove down from the north I stood at the back of the aisle and prayed for you.