Him on his bike – me on mine,
we cycled round Loch Awe;
the curlew with its plaintive song,
beguiled us from the shore.
As youngsters do, we’d chat for hours
of the many things we planned;
I’d be a vet when I grew up –
him – a pilot like his dad.
The years went by and I lost touch
with my onetime childhood friend,
my roots so deeply planted
in the heather neath the ben.
I married, raised a family –
kept goats, and sheep, and hens;
bought a tiny crofter’s cottage
with a whitewashed picket fence
where my children played the days away
just as he and I before
on the sandbanks and the shingle
that skirted old Loch Awe.
As the guns of war drew ever close,
got to wondering where he’d be.
Was his head still up there in the clouds
or had he compromised like me?
So many hopes had turned to dust
since that far-off summertime,
when skies were of the bluest blue
and the sun would ever shine.
Autumn turned to winter
as I heard a piper play,
and on the banks of old Loch Awe
I stood and wept that day.
I picked a sprig of heather,
then watched it float away
to mingle with his ashes
in the loch where lay his plane.