Three Stone Row / the false men

by Neile Graham

--Na Fir Bhreige: three small aligned standing stones that are said to represent three Skye men who deserted their wives and were turned to stone by a witch--

three white stones, like footings
three men gone
who once walked freely, now range

sloping towards the womanly sea,
the mounding breast
of hill behind mounted by the white sky

if they were faithless to their wives
they honour them now
staging a path to the witch who turned

them to stone, the witch of water
and hill and sky
the witch whose granite vengeance

drowns them in peat lets weather's
implacable toil
torture them into the soil into the wind

into nothing till all that's left will be
hill, sea, sky
and the echoing absence of this path

that turns the eye to the conscious
beauty before
her whittling scraping sculpting rage

Neile Graham is Canadian by birth and inclination, having grown up in B.C. and currently living in Seattle. That, in conjunction with her lifelong fascination with myth and folklore has led to her working on a collection of poems about the mythic lore of Scotland and the Pacific Northwest, from which this poem comes. She has three previous collections of poetry, Seven Robins, Spells for Clear Vision, and Blood Memory, as well as a CD of her reading her work, She Says: Poems Selected and New. Her poems and stories have been published in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada. She is currently reading Margaret Oliphant's Miss Marjoriebanks.

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