the Gauldrons

There are many places in Scotland where the skeletons of whales sit, on beach or headland, being slowly worn away by water and by weather. And then there are other places where the rocks and stones themselves resemble bones. The Gauldrons, near Machrihanish, is one such place.

Stones? Or massive skeleta half-buried, unearthed by sand?

The twist of a huge spine, surely?

A giant knuckle?

a ball without it’s socket?

a great, lone shoulder?

The “real” bones of “real” creatures wear away alongside the calciferous remains that have been hewn from the crumbling cliffside, and strewn along the waters edge

I think of the great whale skeletons I’ve seen beached: at Berneray, at Colonsay.

I think of how, in primary school, we were told to divide objects into three categories: Alive, Dead, Never Alive.

I think of how St Ciaran (whose named cave can be found a few miles from this spot) instructed his disciples to leave his remains upon the open hillside.

“Go ye, let my relics bleach in the sun like the bones of a deer”

This place is no reliquary

But rather, a place where everything is moving: the quick, the slow

Out there in the bay of storms (which is what “gauldrons” means) gannets dive, and eiders gather.

A lone, lenticular cloud’s borne westward.

The hour, the day, the season, all move on.

With each tide, each stone is changed

Never Alive. Dead. Alive.