There is a way of taking a book down from its shelf
in a library, a friend’s home or bookshop
that is cheerful and brisk
with an air of taking charge of the book

this was not the case here
in a second-hand store in Santa Cruz
when I happened on
an old guide to the Scottish Highlands
printed years ago
when color plates were rare
and mountains and rivers more somber
than they are in books today

this find
musty with age
I held in my hands
like an old photo album
with a sense of privilege and intimacy

it was as if the photographer had ventured out at night
or very early in the morning
while others slept
so bleak and cold this world of glens and parapets
so keen the air
so cold and dark the waters of Loch Rannoch
so reluctant the light
no hint of purple on Cruachan Beann
no warmth at all in the sun over Lismore

such darkened views
of a land I had not seen for half a century
a land I longed to see again

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