The wind blew into Stromness from Hoy Sound
as if urging me to stay. From the deck,
I watched a gull hover over the ferry.
She’d twitch a feather here, a muscle there,
no exertion, no panic, as if suspended
in a mobile over the cradle of a fisherman’s child.
Instead of recalling my time at Skara Brae
or the Ring of Brodgar, I was hypnotized
by this bird’s deft demonstration of unthinking.
She swam in a relentless river of air
without plan or concern, unlike me—
checking clocks and worrying timetables.
As the boat coughed out into the roiling quicksilver
of the North Sea, I looked back at the stones
of Stromness and realized some part of me remained.
Click on this link to find more of Bartholomew Barker’s work on his website. Many thanks for permission to publish in The Orkney News