Pilgrimage III - Out of Element

I was aware of my Scottishness
in Whitby, among the sleek
quiet sisters and their smooth
upper-class vowels.

I was aware of my rock and
crag gutterals, the sea-salted
skin, the Glasgow grime
in my voice, as I was praying.

I kneeled though, where they
did not, my pride abased
before a beautiful cross, where
they, in their smooth grey way

inclined their heads a trifle
as they moved away.  I ken
not their day, their footering,
as one said, and only saw

them in chapel when they came.
Twisted, and large, small, and
slim, lumbering, quick-footed,
awkwardly bent and with 

a stick.  I watched them
arrive and leave from my
visitorís pew.  I said my 
own words of pain, of the

far and the few, the gone
and alone, the cord cutting
and the drifting in suffering.
I doubt they knew my

concrete ways, my darknesses,
but I sat with them
and listened to their
singing, the long English

tones floating and echoing
the soft throats of women.
My hearty host, a tall
Sturdy nun, politely

welcomed me, and saw
me leave, invited me back
again.  Their silver crosses
gleamed, and the Hild banner

depicted my life too: the
standing woman.  I
envied them even as I
gulped, gratefully, the crisp

morning air in October as I
made my way towards the
trains, my northern life
and the arms of my man.
Holy City
Return to Collections all
next poem