A warm summer day and the downhill run
from Staunton home, and there he stood
in Highland array at the overlook,
bag full and chanter to his lips.
A private moment, it seemed,
else we would have stopped
to listen, perhaps to chat
if he had a mind to.
But he was intent on his piping,
facing east across the valley—
piping, one might think,
to immigrant family
who settled these hills,
tracing in his mind an unseen path
from a lowland port westward
among the glens and across these icy streams.
A mountain people before they came,
born in rocky crags stretching beneath the sea
to these selfsame Appalachian hills—
now home in ways they knew and didn’t know.
And what of this does the piper ken?
Does he pipe back two hundred years
to an ancestor Barclay or Black,
McLean or McIntosh, who built here and farmed
the land below?
Or does something stir deeper in his blood
tying him to another place and time,
and so he stands today on a new Afton
far, far this side of home,
oblivious to the interstate
and growl of traffic and curious stares,
as alone as a man can be heart-deep among his kin,
piping to a distant land?
© David Black, 2015
|Bagpiper at Loch Garry|
Photo by Bleiglass
from Wikimedia Commons