My dear friend, Erin O’Quinn, is working on the last chapters of the latest in her Nevada Highlander series, Sleeping with Danger. It’s the fourth book in this exciting story showcasing two of her most intriguing characters, Alex Dominguez, a Nevadan by birth—but who says you have to stay where you were born, eh? He’s partnered with Rory Drummond, a Scottish Laird who is as tied to his land of birth as the thistle which grows there. At the request of the local constabulary there, they are searching for a missing man, and in their search, they find an unexpected depth to the Scotland Rory has delighted in showing to his lover. Their search and the pathos of the land of my own ancestors moved me to this poem. I hope you enjoy it. [“Bean Nighe” is Scots Gaelic for “washerwoman.” She is the Scots equivalent to the Irish Banshee.]
The skirl of the bagpipes
The haunting of the moor
Call forth from lowering sky
Bean Nighe, tilting up her washing tub
To pour her grief upon the world.
There is no world but Highland.
All else can matter not
The pipes alone can call this mourning
Of a clan, of a family, of a people.
Grief is the fruit of Scotland,
Gleaned from the corners of the song
The notes that sit but are not sung
Driven downward toward the earth
By the beat of kestrel wings
To meet the purple thistle-heads
Thrust up from blood drenched soil.