On Gribun rocks I wait for the gille brighde.
A red dart, he comes low on the water
From Kellan shore, or where white horses smash
On the cliffs of Eorsa. Ribboning
Through the slap of the tide, his cry is for
Bride of the kine, light-footed ember gatherer,
Leaner over cradles, and guardian
Of the hearth and the smithing crafts.
Goddess of fire, she stirs the winter’s end
In somnolent imprisonment, caged
In the flinty knuckles of Ben Nevis.
I am entombed in a beinn of my making,
Stone laid lovingly on stone, a cairn
For a vanished bond. I am blank with loss.
Through absence and the fierce lull of the sea
The dipping “Bride!” of the oystercatcher
Is both the summons for a soft Spring and
A weeping call for a love’s Calvary.
In Gaelic, the call of an oystercatcher is said to have led St Bridget to Calvary. In Scottish mythology Bridget, or Bride, is imprisoned in Ben Nevis by the Queen of Winter.
Kirsty MacLeod is a poet whose work draws heavily on the Hebridean landscapes that she grew up in and on the strong connection between island culture and nature.