Glen Coe
Jonathan Johnson

Here the mountains rise so steep to their snow
they take the entire window to become sky.
He wakes in this drover’s inn in the dark
and the glen has been waiting with its long,
slow curve for his body.  A lover
soft with old sorrows.  Even her ancestral dog
down in last night’s wood fire tavern
came to meet his hand.  But he’s not here.
He drifts into moonlight, leading the mute beast
of his grief while the never-born wait,
their ghost fires trailing smoke past dawn.
Somewhere in these Highlands there’s a woman
whose living place he’s taken.  She keeps his words,
the ones he will not write, shelved and dry.
Of the fathers who got away, his is the territory
of warm child and wife, territory love stays.
He climbs alone to look back down
and let the hut beside the pines below
rebuild itself from grass-scattered stones.
Snow moves over Meall Mór.  Children
turned from burning homes to freeze and die
with their widowed mothers in the glen
flurry around him, white him out, leave him
to the slope, washed of the ache to leave his life.

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