The landlord, “The Laird” went away,
deserted this island like a pond drying up.
His mess – broken down houses and pier,
spotty electricity, bare land, followed him.
Dancers, farmers, dreamers took charge.
No awaiting laird’s permission to plant trees.
A mud matted border collie
demands hikers toss stones towards Laig Bay
and Isle of Rhum whose wind slashed hills
slip in and out of clouds. No laird,
just an insistent dog who digs, tosses sand
when her guests pause to watch ring necked plovers
scurry on rocks. The hikers aim stones away from birds
and their barking friend fetches.
Late feudalism stumbled,
choked, flowed into abrupt democracy.
on common land among old volcanic peaks,
Rabbits hop, corn crakes flutter among blue flowers.
Bats zip and zap mid air
near hidden cottages and crofts.
Thin roads weave through grassy hills.
Drivers pull over for sheep who “Baaa!”
in a hundred tones. White waterfall crashes
down black basalt cliffs.
No laird here;
farmers, historians, artists, teachers, cooks –
and a dog who runs back with a stone.
–Isle of Eigg, Scotland, July 2015.
Paul Belz is an environmental educator and writer, currently based in Chico, California. He teaches natural history for preschool and elementary students, their parents, and teachers. Paul has published articles in Terrain Magazine, the East Bay Monthly, Childcare Exchange Magazine, the website Boots’n’All, and the blogs Wild Oakland and Green Adventures Travel. He’s co-editing a book on bioregional education with Judy Goldhaft of San Francisco’s Planet Drum Foundation. His poetry appears in a number of publications, including Canary, Living in the Land of the Dead (an anthology on homelessness by San Francisco’s Faithful Fools Ministry), Poetalk Quarterly, Just Like Cabbage, Only Different, The Poeming Pigeon, Blueline, the anthology What’s Nature Got to Do With Me? and others. His other joys include hiking and camping, world travel, vegetarian cooking, and long walks around San Francisco and his hometown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.