Monday, October 28, 2019

OctPoWriMo #28: Mending the Broken Places

This fog-bound broken place I know,
abandoned cottages, their stones
scattered in the hills, deep
in the highlands, along the coasts.

In the 1840's, families left, 
carrying their belongings in blankets 
when they could, 
in that time when factories sprang up in cities,
when crofters were replaced by sheep,
the lairds comfortable in their manse or
down in London, counting receipts.

Some of the people left entirely, a Scottish
diaspora to new places, Australia, Canada, and India,
not lost and not broken, 
but fierce carriers of culture, tales of
the old country to bolster their courage
on dark, hungry nights and stormy seas.

In time, these tenacious people mended.
One day at a time, one lost child to mourn, 
each new birth creating the world anew,
their homes, their history not forgotten. 

Abandoned stone cottage (Pixabay)
NOTE: A college class about the economic history of Great Britain led me to study the Industrial Revolution and its impact on average people whose lives were transformed by events they could not control. My fascination with mermaids inspired my earliest storytelling, about Finnish men in tiny, seal boats who plied the coasts of northern Scotland, in search of wives; locals called them 'mermen'. 

These two improbable events combined in my first book, Standing Stones. We were fortunate to take a two-month research trip to northern Scotland, where one can still see those abandoned cottages, their stones strewn in fields and abandoned. But, their history is not forgotten.

Tomorrow's prompt: Lightness of Being.

You can visit OctPoWriMo at to read what others have written and for writing prompts for tomorrow's poem. Why not join in?

Thank you, Morgan Dragonwillow, Michelle Vecchitto, Esther Jones, and Maria L. Berg for hosting this month-long poetry challenge.


  1. I like your take on today's prompt, Beth.

  2. Thank you, Jade. I'm looking forward to reading yours a little later today. Interesting how the prompts take us different places.

  3. Very interesting take on the prompt and knowing history always helps.

    1. Thank you! Actually, I lived this history as part of research for my series of historical fiction that began with the Industrial Revolution in northern Scotland. Sometimes an image comes along and takes me right back to that time.

  4. Thank you, Odette, for visiting and commenting. And, thank you for liking this 'poem' of sorts, which begins really with me wondering what life was like for those who cannot protect themselves with wealth.

  5. I love it. "A Scottish Diaspora," straight from the Stones.....Standing, Years, and Rivers. I remember thinking as I finished Rivers of Stones that you might be telling how Scots like me ended up here in the Willamette Valley. (Tho I'm not sure my people were that tough.)