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  • Carolyn Paterson

CULLODEN 1746- 2019


Rectangle of grey-green grass and memory

Holding 273 years of myth between its fingertips

Its air calling to us:

Lingering war-cries mix with June rain

And fuel ghost-stories at family dinners

Culloden lets people cross the bridge

From contemporary Scotland to 1746,

To a time ruled by Celtic law and not phones

Tourists criss-cross each other on square paths

With the same story taped into their ears:

The story of the last time the land felt a battle above it:

Blood and sword fragments fertilising the ground

And fermenting the atmosphere around it

But it starts to close in:

The stench of the property market

The modern world creeping up and over it,

Inch by inch,

The history we have taken centuries

To grieve, unearth and recover

Buried beneath the bricks of new-build homes

As the Battle of Culloden starts to near its sell-by-date

Because you have to know where you come from:

When the SNP look away,

As the war-graves of their forefathers are walled in

Because when you know your history

You know when it is being used against you:

When Culloden is dropped casually into Tory speeches

A battle sanitised by think-tank slogan speak

To bridge the gap in the union

To bridge us back to our defeats-

The shrinking and sealing of Scottish culture

The control of our land

Stand up for what you stand on:

And don’t let its stories

Slip through the cracks of modern-life

But make your own memories from these myths

And keep our History alive.

Carolyn Paterson is a writer from Central Scotland whose work focuses on politics, female relationships, spirituality and the natural world. Her poetry has been published in Razur Cuts, SPAM and Psyche Publication, and she has performed at spoken-word nights such as Express Yourself, Inky Fingers and Soul Food Poetry.


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