The Lad from the Isle of Skye


There once was a lad from Scotland attending his aunt’s assertiveness training
course in a small farming community in one of the Plains states. He was ill at ease, for he
had been studying low hanging shiny new branches in his native highlands and found his
aunt’s new course of study nearly devoid of them.
This was no fairytale. This was intense and deprived. There was no bright carriage
to the everlasting graveyard from this flattened castle.
A tidy little limerick of the lowlands had it that certain Highlanders’ kilts were
made of scullery maids’ undergarments and their tartans revealed the diseases the maids
had died of, but the young lad had not heard this until it was used by his new classmates
in lurid derision.
“By what chance occurrence then shall I achieve my enlightenment?” wondered
aloud the young Highlander.
And so off he went, swimming in the dirty little river of progress, and when he
came out, he dried off with clean towels and achieved a certain distance. Could it be so
It was time to pause and reevaluate his circumstances.
He listened, carefully, from afar. His shadow had never spoken so softly. Did it
know him so much better now?
And when a stray cloud came down low, with a strangely suggestive shape to give
away, he was ready to go home.
It felt like a ballad and that frightened him, for he was Scottish and knew what
happened in ballads.
He waited for the chorus.
It did not come from the heavens, but he sang the words like a soldier, again and
again, and each time they did not mean what they had before. Each time he took them
deeper into his aging body. A sea of possibility gradually surrounded his new homeland.
Beneath him lay the story of his ancestors rowing with the blades of the words they were
singing. The lad stuck one of his own verbal oars into the unstable dirt of the Plains, but
he had already forgotten to allow for the missing boat made of low hanging shiny new

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.