A ‘ben’ is Scottish for a high mountain or mountain peak. This poem came out of a visit to Ben Nevis while visiting Scotland some time back. An English writer gave it a mention in a magazine article but seemed freaked out by my use of the phrase “this colonial monkey/In a first world jungle.” enjoy.
The Bens Of Scotland
They were breakers, lashing at the tidemark,
Crashing on the shore, they were pushed back
By cliffs to find their strength, refused a refuge
From the storms, they were lessons that urged
Let go, dive like the Scottish seabirds,
Always a net of waves to break their fall.
The restless seek, life and its adventures,
Are not the reckless, no love for misadventure.
Scottish bens confirm convictions.
Some people whine about oppression, some return
To potentials of a place all in the mind,
Somewhere to hook a tail, swing from history,
Renounce self-pity, like this colonial monkey
In a first world jungle who had delayed writing
To avoid a confrontation with the self; pacifists
Fear the scrutiny of justice, emotional masochists
Return always to the scene of sadness, where
Childhood traumas are replayed, dramas psychoanalysts
Produce for bank plans; healing Scottish scars
For fallen kings, teaching Africa can’t buckle belts
Of weather, pin down reigns of motherland monarchs,
But can mould a people – like an adult’s whip once
Forced a child to swallow one more hated morsel,
The bens of Scotland commanded, write one more line.