I have always loved the prose and poetry of George Mackay Brown, whom I met in 1976 in Stromness on the Orkney Mainland. (They call it the Mainland, even though it’s an island.) I have visited there twice, both times in bad weather, which I think is the only kind of weather prevailing there.
The Finished House
In the finished house a flame is brought to the hearth. Then a table, between door and window Where a stranger will eat before the men of the house. A bed is laid in a secret corner For the three agonies – love, birth, death – That are made beautiful with ceremony. The neighbours come with gifts – A set of cups, a calendar, some chairs. A fiddle is hung at the wall. A girl puts lucky salt in a dish. The cupboard will have its loaf and bottle, come winter. On the seventh morning One spills water of blessing over the threshold.