The Stationmaster’s Lodge, February

By: Morgan Macvaugh
I know where the end of the world is. It lies in Stromeferry, at
the foot of a house, by a loch that drinks in the night and leaves
it cold. Mountains, white-capped with snow, but black with
stars, circle it, leaning in to hear the voices seeping past stone
walls.
Protected, my back nearly touching the woodstove, I sit on the
hearth, watching as the ten of us young gather around the gray
men. One with a guitar, the other, our guide, asking him to play.
He grumbles good-naturedly, tugging at the strings and twisting
the knobs until they sing in key.
“A Song for Ireland,” says our guide. His voice is thick with the
moorlands, rising up into the high. He looks to us, eyes glinting
firelight. “You haven’t eard anything til you’ve eard him sing it.
The most beautiful thing.” He says beautiful like bee-U-tiful, like
it’s something to stop stare at and ponder.
The man with the guitar scoffs, but finishes tuning, and parts his
lips. The voice that comes out is slightly rough with age and wrin
-kles, but the tune is silky, and weaves through the couches and
chairs and something in the moment stills us. When he finishes,
the moment is broken, and my youth resurfaces with the others in
loud claps and whistles. The guitar man slips a fleeting smile as
the sound dances and clatters along the wooden floor. Runs a cal
-loused hand through his gray mane. “Well now. A song fer a song.
Who’s got one?”
I blink. The others call out for “Hotel California,” “Brown Eyed
Girl.” “Can you play that?” a girl asks.
“I can play anything if you gif me the tune.”
More songs called out, tunes by Billy Joel, Coldplay. “Rivers
and Roads.” And I’m not sure where it comes from, but then the
words are past my lips. “You know, ‘The Parting Glass’?” And
the guitar man stops and pins me with eyes so pale I think for a
moment he’s blind.
“What did you say?”
The words feel heavy and pointed and the room goes silent. My
cheeks are fire. “’The Parting Glass,’” I ask, “Do you know that
old Irish song?”
“Strangest thing,” he tells me softly, slowly, like thinking aloud.
A smile’s shadow imprinted on his weathered face. “I was listenin
to that on the way o’er.”
And our guide looks between the both of us and brushes his chin
with a slow hand. “Aye, that is strange.”
The man with the guitar sits up in the couch, bends over his in
-strument. “I’ll play it, but you ave to sing it.”
“No, I… Really, I can’t—,” but his eyes are firm and his fingers
are curled over the strings.
“A song fer a song.”
And he plays the first chord and time’s not stopping, so my voice
emerges from my throat and tiptoes around the room, a high, dis
-used thing. His strings call it forward. The fire crackles behind us.
And it seems there is no more breathing; the world ends here.

***
morgan macvaugh is a junior Creative Writing major. She is currently
surrounded by Highland Coos in Scotland, and loving every minute of it.
She would like to give a huge thank you to her family, especially Mac, for
always being encouraging.

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An t-Eilean Sgitheanach

By Emily Teitsworth

in Scotland, the sky never touches the ground
it plays hide-and-seek
with gray-blue dubh Cuillin bheinn slopes
(sensational and woebegone)

Scots tell sgeulachdan of fairies that never die

imagine
light footsteps to the drawl of Mull of Kintyre
absentminded dannsa at dusk
on the Trotternish peninsula where Bodach an Stòir
overlooks the Sound of Raasay
from its perch atop Sgurr Alasdair

Nory told us that in the time of Clans, believing in fairies
was religious. He told us when Christianity came to Scotland
the Clans were hesitant, because how could this story of Jesus
explain all the peculiarities of their world?

I don’t know if the Scots still believe in sìthichean

what I do know is in every ionaltradh
every cluain, every uamha and gleann,
there are rumors of fae living in brambles
sometimes when the sun is about to rise
you swear you can see one
wearing clothes of aldur bark
and a birch tree crown
fluttering on lace-braided wings
toward yellow-leafed craobhan

Definitions
An t-Eilean Sgitheanach: The Isle of Skye
dubh Cuillin bheinn: black Cuillin mountains
sgeulachdan: stories
dannsa: dancing
Bodach an Stòir: Old Man of Storr
Sgurr: peaks
sìthichean: fairies
ionaltradh: pasture
cluain: field
uamha: cave
gleann: valley
craobhan: trees

 

Check out Emily’s Photo: Fairy Pools at glen Brittle 

Heartland and Highland

By Gretchen Hintze

This is a land of mists and myths

We stand in the palms of giants

their faces carved into mountains

by ancient magic and bitter grudge

Dash about the Fairy Glen, keep quiet, keep gentle

lest they snatch you away–

rolling endless green to mischief dark and quick

Old Man of Storr stands tall in the fog,

he reminds us that friendship

transcends grief and realms and time

This is a land of legends and legacies

Clansmen and kings haunt forests and castles,

ghosts of bloodshed, royal and barbaric

each fighting for his land in battles centuries past

A gray and green sprawl of earth and air and water,

the lochs are still, the air is clean as sun beams through clouds

along the peaceful coastline of Skye

Stories pulse through the air, as if Scotland is whispering.

telling of itself, of history and lore, of monsters and men,

All winding through a land of beauty, and green, impossibly green.