– Gus am bris an là

Out from this croft house opens the comfort
of black mountains and black sea,
black wind flattening black grass,
black granite and black names, names
with sharp shape and names become smooth
black rain, black wind, black sheep
white snowflake specks high on the dead
bracken hill today—Sheep don’t get cold,
a boy with whom I share seven hundred years
of people here told me—black tractor, black hay,
black Skye ferry tied to a black pier,
black school, black shop, narrow black road
in cursive down from Ratagan Pass,
black Riverfoot Cottage where the Glenmore
meets the black Sound of Sleat, black sound
of wind at the window, black ceiling
of cloud scrolling fast, black smoke from the chimney,
black heart, black blood in black veins,
black ink in the dark, a hundred and two years
since my great grandfather slept in this black glen,
my silver car, black out on the black gravel drive,
black lichen on black rock-stacked fence up steep slopes
by hands become dirt, black maple, black grass,
fifteen black white and black collie pups
drowsing at their mothers’ black teats,
black peat, black quilt, black pillow, black sheets,
and I, who have never slept here, am back and drift—
no, not drift, touch ground to sleep in the comfort
of black mountains and black sea, the infinity
of color in black, until the day breaks.

    – for Cousin Catherine