Will Vigar

a writer of sorts

Ullapool – Remembrance Sunday 2019 (Hebrides)

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An unexpected noise woke me. Footsteps on gravel. A faint gruffling noise. The sun absent; the moon a papercut. Something brushed against the chalet door, making a light clacking against the mullions. Contented grunts sounding as it reached to steal a mossy treat from beneath the step.

Across an asphalt scar,

indifferent to our presence,

prickets came to dine.

 

On leaving the chalet, we marvelled at the stillness of the lake.  It had frozen so quickly that a wavelet could still be seen, threatening to break, but caught; apprehended by weather. The air was so cold and so tight, a well-placed pin could prick it, bursting the atmosphere. A small private jetty, dew frozen onto its surface, dipped it’s feet, reflecting nervously around the still quivering edges of the water.

*

The road to Ullapool winds through The Lonely Lands. Single track roads, breath-taking geology, endless gorse and moss; a slinky polecat, ermine underbelly flashing as it ran, and a large unidentified hawk, silhouetted against whetted blue skies, the only signs of life. We arrived to silence.  Finding a café, we ate breakfast while watching the loch breathe.

The streets filled with well-dressed and solemn people, all walking towards the harbour. Once a hub of the national fishing industry, factory ships exhausted the stocks of herring, taking industry and employment with it.

Klondykes – long gone –

have returned the harbour

to hushed sound.

*

We watched as the crowd grew, blocking the roads and the harbour front.  To the west, the focus. A cenotaph. A solemn finger, pointing to the heavens. Ullapool exhales and a Pipe Band punctuates the breathless silence. The harshness of the pipes filtered by numbed air; softened by frozen breath. The mountains by the loch providing a sublime reverberation.

The dulcet, brume-filtered

drone whispers its lament

over black, rigored waters.

As the service concluded, I glanced to the Brigadoon hills. Mist slow-raced to the loch – urgent but languid – before being absorbed into its waters. The reconnection of mist and loch, a reunion of mother and child. A metaphor, perhaps?

In the mists of life…

 

 

 

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