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The Ceilidh House
by Caroline Gill
The peat fire crackles, and burns with stories:
footsteps scurry through mist and mountain
to warm a Hebridean hearth with stories.
A figure crosses turf where St Columba
knelt long ago beside the Snizort:
the crofter's creel is laden with stories.
He pauses to watch the snow-stars drifting
on the loch, with its kelp and pebbles:
hares in the lazy-bed leap with stories.
The crofter enters his neighbour's parlour,
rests on the settle while divots smoulder:
a plaintive skirl fills the room with stories.
Shadows dance round the doleful piper,
whose music makes the embers tremble:
the single oil lamp flickers with stories.
A mother stirs her three-legged cauldron:
sisters spin, or weave at the handloom,
infusing a homemade plaid with stories.
Hailstone tears pound the snow-flecked Cuillin,
recalling the Clearances, emigration:
the Ceilidh House overflows with stories.
First published: By the winter fires (ed. Ronnie Goodyer and Dawn Bauling, Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2009)
Included in The Holy Place by John Dotson and Caroline Gill (chapbook, 2012, published by The Seventh Quarry
Press, Wales, in conjunction with Cross-Cultural Communications, New York)