LEAVING THE ISLANDWe’ve all gone now, left the place to the sheepand the gannet, the puffin and the wren.For decades only a mailboat of whalebone and oakcame and went from here. Then the touristsarrived to see if we were more than myth in the OuterHebrides. We sold them tweed and spottedbird’s eggs, let them look in on prayer meetings, countthe stones in the walls we built to keep out the weather.When we prayed it was for a ceaseto things: the wind, the war, the plagues.In the end, the land choked us out, carcassesof sea birds and layers of peat moss turned to leadthe constant fog, the solitude, the slippery grassby the cliff’s edge, that impossible winter of 1929.We left our Bibles open and handfuls of oats on the floor.Locked our doors behind us. From this vantage pointour home was just a sketch of land that shrank into the sea—the island’s sharp crags impossible to understand.This land, so angry and so peaceful now, withoutus. The feral sheep bleat into the evening.Nothing to bother them but old age and the windthat made us all walk like bent trees.
From Global Poetry Anthology (2012) by Talya Rubin.