James Of Killie Brau

Three days I wandered on the moor
and still I'd lost my way
I wakened from the night before
among the creeping haze

The dawn was stirring blackened hills
the heather groped my shoes
its twisted stalks and branches cracked
when ever my feet moved

Then from the whisping wavey mist
an old man's form appeared
my heart grew faster by the tick
my legs stood rigid fear

At first it was but greying hair
then head and shoulders grew
from in the flowing matter
the old man's shape came through

And not a stir of bird nor beast
was heard whence near he came
floating through the morning mist
and then he called my name,

'Though art James of Killie Brau,
You've travelled far and far,
You're miles from your homeland,
And where you really are'

His voice was low yet clearly heard
it wasn't rough or spiked
it seemed to echo from his mouth
its smoothness made it bright

I puzzled how he knew my name
I never had seem him
His clothes were strange a whiteish cloak
his face a darkened skin

A boney structured arm and hand
stretched out and grabbed my wrist
its claw like fingers wrapping round
I made my final wish

Then low and smooth his voice rang out
I thought this is the end
'I'll take you where you're known about,
I'll take you home my friend'

He took me leading, like a child,
I stumbled by his side
his breath was never panting
I never heard him sigh

Down through glen and mossy top
he led me on my way
his grip as tight throughout the miles
and then I heard him say

'Sit down here and rest awhile,
Tell me what you see,
On yonder landscape's craggy cliffs,
Where moorland meets the trees'

His voice still low I looked below
and up the other side
I gazed in valley, mountain peek
I scoured far and wide

My voice spoke everything I saw
described in every way
but still I hadn't told him
what he wanted me to say

His topaz eyes stabbed at me
piercing at my soul
his blackish stick like finger
directing me to go

'See yonder on the clifftop,
Above the hanging reef,
Beside a tree a standing stone,
And homeward it will lead'

Although I didn't like him
he somehow held my reins
directing me from A to B
I could not turn away

And yet he showed me kindness
directing me to home
I turned around to thank him
but discovered he had gone

It would soon be early evening
my step was quick and true
up by the cliff and hanging reef
a tree and stone I knew

The weather changing for the worst
and darkness closing in
the cold and damp beneath my clothes
were biting at my skin

I've never seen a sadder tree
no bright or bristling leaves
it stood alone beside the stone
the stone alone by me

Its twisted trunk was small and shrunk
its branches twisted too
they whipped and snapped
when breezes passed
the leaves were greenish blue

Remembering my mission
I looked upon the stone
so I might travel further
on my journey home

I gazed upon the writing
it was hard to make it out
my fingers scraped between the cracks
shaping at the grout

And then like clouds erupting
with some fantastic clash
a thunderous roll of laughter
came bursting in a flash

It screamed at me in agony
it echoed in the air
it was the old man's laugh I heard
and yet he wasn't there

'Look at the stone', it shouted out,
'I'll tell you what you see;
Here lie the bones from Killie Brau,
Of James Mcafferty,
Who wandered for three days or more
struggling to get home,
But from the clifftop reef he fell,
Some sixty years ago'

I didn't understand him
I'm here yet in my grave
for every word he spoke to me
was every word it said

And so he spelled it out for me
his voice was low and clear,
'You have a restless spirit son,
That is why I'm here'

'Now and then you wander,
And I return you home,
For you're the ghost Mcafferty,
While I remain your bones'.

by Charles M Moore

Comments (1)

You held me in a state of intrigue all through this write. What a creative mind you have! I really truly enjoyed this! WOW! Patricia