This is the place where you fell. Your bright swords and old shields faltering. All your angers and all your courage turned the soft earth to mud and the valley must have echoed, it must have echoed to your cries. In the cool dawn, in our houses we can still hear you shouting, and if we come down to the fields, if we listen in the evening, we hear you weeping. When mist lies in the low meadows, we gather our children away and think of risings and despair. Through all the many years, priests have come to cast upon you all their holy waters, their incense and prayer. But when the rains fall and the waters rise, you are still there, your bones holding the earth, your longing and your sorrows slow the floods.
What were you longing for, when you fell? We have always thought it was vengeance, we have drawn back from your voices and closed our doors, in the rising mists and the sunrise we stoppered up our ears to escape your fury.
But in the evening we hear you weeping. The flocks gather along the fence-lines, turning their bewildered eyes to the water and the hare passes through long grasses without pausing. How many of you were fathers, missing your hearth and the bright eyes of your bairns? How many of you were boys, with thin fingers wielding weapons too heavy for your arms? We always thought you wanted vengeance, even though we heard you weeping. How many of you were fathers, missing your bairns?
In the winter I watch the floods freeze and the old mud return to the surface, carrying you with it to stare at the heavy skies and the bravest of the stars. In the spring, when the evening is as soft as butter and the lapwing flies like petals above us all, I come down to the meadow with my bairn.
I come down with her in white linen and my arms, and the meadow is a dream of rainbows, the grass a sea. I pick flowers grown from your blood and she reaches for them with her pure hands; I hear you weeping, and I sing. I sing lullabies in the evening with your flowers in her hair, and you listen. The sun drifts along the edge of the hills, and I sing until you are sleeping.
Having spent many years working in remote corners of the world, Lorraine Wilson now lives by the sea in Scotland and writes stories that are touched by folklore and the wilderness. She’s had short stories published in several anthologies and tweets @raine_clouds about science, writing, cats and wierdnesses.