The Stones at Callinish, Isle of Lewis


A boarded-up hotel beside
a fishing pier, a pub. Above them both,
a church crouched on a hill. Whoever brought
Christ to this desolate coast did it
with sword and fire, and it's not clear today
whether it took, or whether the slow seep
of centuries, the long winter nights,
would ever let anything be that wasn't
as sullen as the hill. The village
is that way, too. When you step outside,
there it is, the universe, all of it,
the glare of it pure, God's unshaven face
so close your skin rasps. Whoever raised
these stones did a good job of vanishing, too,
thought the longer I stand here, the more
it seems it was deeper into the genes
they went, not just into the air.


Roger Mitchell, Lemon Peeled the Moment Before: New & Selected Poems 1967-2008, Ausable Press, 2008.