Sunday, March 8, 2009

Poetry Train Monday - 91 - A Place to Start

This may be an entire year of found poetry for me - I'm having so much fun doing it. I've found quite a few poems in my prose fiction, and here is another one from my WIP about the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden, which took place in Scotland in April, 1746.

Last week I turned a scene from my story into a bit of an epic Naisaiku Challenge. This week I'm introducing Emma, the daughter of a clan chief who will cross paths with Jock, the narrator of last week's poem, a little later in my WIP. You can read some prose excerpts HERE.

A Place to Start

“Soldiers! Run! Go to the hills!”
Emma looked up from her stitching
Thomas ran toward the house from Nairn road
Mother quickly made the sign of the cross

Emma raced down the back stairs
“We must fly from here, now!”
“But the pies, Miss-”

A dozen of them moved into the trees

Then she heard it - a low rumble
A shout. Emma tried
But she glanced over her shoulder
Red-coated soldiers swarmed

Hens and pigs turned out
Horses tried to avoid the hands
Cattle dogs barked angrily
Washstand hurled from third-floor window

“Saints preserve us,” Enid said.
“Keep moving!” Thomas called.
Emma turned from the ruin of her home
The English had won the day

Her father, clan chief of MacBean
Did he lay broken on the field?
Her brothers...fiance...
Emma refused to hear the crackle of flames behind her

What of the oil portrait
Charred and blackened now?
Her brother Murray stared with eyes
Haunted by second guesses

“Come, Murray,” she coaxed.
She turned to look with him
Black smoke rose lazily from barn roof
Animals wandered past silver and crystal glinting in the grass

The rest lay twisted in death
“Murray MacBean,” she said. “You mustn’t
Stand here while your women are going alone
Into the hills.”

Murray looked at her, swallowing hard.
So dejected he’d been, left behind at fifteen.
Look after the manor house, while the other men
Fought for the Stuarts

“You may be the only MacBean left
To us. Be sure that your women and servants
Get safely away. Come, now.”
Began walking, slowly so he would follow

Murray turned wordlessly
Scanning the trees
He strode quickly up the low slope
Emma peered hard between trunks and branches

Searching the gloom for a flash of red
This forest, the scene of countless
Family outings filled with basket lunches and games
How sinister it now seemed

Enid’s pies. The English had devoured them by now.
It was cold out here without a shawl
Her slippered feet wet in the April afternoon
Was she walking toward safety here in the hills

Or merely putting off the inevitable?
Would tonight be the night she would
Dwell in the house of the Lord?
And was it wrong to wish with all of her heart

She might see her Douglas once more?
“Come, Emma!” Murray called.
She ran, trying not to think. More important things now.
Staying alive was a place to start.

- Julia Smith, 2009

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