Sails & Tales | Poetry – Megan Lane MacDonald

The Certainty of Truth

My father tells me kernels of wisdom
passed down from our ancestors:
fishers, farmers, and Celts.
Prophetic signs, safeguards,
and slippery facts you can’t pin down.

He says
that when all the cows in a field lie down,
that’s almost certainly a sign of rain.
He can never fully dismiss the ideas
for who really knows the truth for certain anyway?

His eyes sparkle like his father’s,
with more than just a hint of mischief
when he tells me that pigs can see the wind.
And who’s to say they can’t?
Not the pigs, certainly!

With a cheerful smile, he reminds me
that iron wards off evil,
holy water can protect a home from lightning,
and deaths come in threes.
And I’ve never seen proof to the contrary.

His forefathers declared Gaelic the world’s first language,
“Spoken by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden!”
And who’s to say that any of them are wrong?
Not me, certainly.


We meet the sea at an early age.
Babbling tongues taste salt before learning to talk.
Little legs splash and kick the waves,
and gain a love for water before trying to walk.

In these formative years, we slide
between worlds, search for snails, sea glass and shells,
know the value of looking closely,
of searching and finding. This is how
we learn to find ourselves.


Change comes slow to islands.
It crosses oceans to arrive on our shores.
Trends come late, technology later.

Grown farm children still recall
the shift from out-house to in-house,
one-room schools, party lines,
and the coming of the pavement.

Change comes suddenly to islands
as natural as sands slipping into the sea.
A flood of new life brings new methods and manners
and unfamiliar words from far worlds.

New shops pop up like mushrooms
selling falafel, tandoori, japchae, and sushi.
We hear Arabic on the streets,
and notes from steelpans float through the air.

Acceptance comes slow to this island,
like the tide coming in.
Wave by wave,
retreating a little less each time.