Isle of Barra

Our hearts were warm, and our toes freezing cold,
thanks to the ice wind that regularly blows
onto the shore, from the wild North Sea-
an ocean we ran into, naked, and free.
We read books, discussed poetry and political affairs.
We were always trying to cut one another’s hair.
We wore our red gowns, like peacocks- with pride.
Our initials stitched into the label inside,
in an attempt to possess a small part of tradition.
To know you belonged to this red school of fish in
a body of water so vast and unknown-
otherwise known as life away from home.
And here we learned how to analyse and write,
how to love unconditionally, how to make room at night
in your squeaking single bed for a friend, feeling lonely.
How to whisper in the silent section, so that the only
person who hears, is your desk mate.
How to slip into the back row when you are late.
How to hide a hipflask of gin in your welly,
how not to talk over each other when watching the telly,
how to plan your pier jumps around the high tide,
how to listen to the rain from under duvets, inside.
How to laugh, how to think, how to grow and much more-
how to know a piece of your heart will always belong to these shores.

by Emily McEwan