Isle of Iona

The Oban Times - - Leisure - by Dr Emily Zo­bel Mar­shall, se­nior lec­turer in post­colo­nial lit­er­a­ture at Leeds Beck­ett Univer­sity

I ex­plored the is­land’s gen­tly slop­ing meadows glow­ing golden in the evening light as if il­lu­mi­nated from be­low and between the danc­ing grasses of par­nas­sus A mass of wild­flow­ers met my eye Cranes­bill, self-heal, yel­low rat­tle and red cam­pion, Fox­gloves, hare­bells and but­tery meadow vetch­ling Ladies bed­straw so soft it in­vited me to lie on its mat­tress of cush­ioned saf­fron petals Sleepy am­ber cat­tle slowly chewed the cud While stately crowns of this­tle stood ma­jes­tic but­ter­cups com­peted with the sun­beams to be the bright­est orbs of light Drag­on­flies thrummed on iri­des­cent wings amongst the camomile and milky heads of yar­row White bright eye brights twin­kled pur­ple irises and this chorale of wild­flow­ers streamed their hon­eyed scent into the gen­tle breeze in­tox­i­cat­ing me with heady per­fumes of mid­sum­mer And beyond the tilt­ing fields, the beach Where ropes of tan­gled sea­weed threw their salty stench into the evening air Against a back­drop of slate-grey basalt rock Lit­tle Rose gath­ered trea­sures on the shore­line Precious shim­mer­ing shells are grouped Peb­bles whose me­tal­lic glit­ter de­light her eye Long feath­ers to dec­o­rate care­fully moulded mounds and tiny rounded bits of glass, emer­ald and sap­phire jagged edges sculpted smooth by time and wave and sand Beyond her, on the turquoise waves a grey seal watched all, in­tensely cu­ri­ous while in­dif­fer­ent gan­nets cir­cled, cried and dived All this laid bare for the senses to be­hold ra­di­ance over­whelm­ing to nose and ear and eye The be­liever may be sure they know the se­crets of Iona’s splen­dour Yet those with only ques­tions can but mar­vel at her grace and leave al­ready long­ing to re­turn and be wrapped once more in her scented golden evening em­brace

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