Emotion, both positive and negative, drives ‘Homesickness’. It’s a fantastic depiction of the love/hate relationship which many of our entrants expressed, but none did it with such fervour and poetry as Katriona managed.


by Katriona Kerr


I left in a right temper, storming across the clanging metal gangway without a backward glance.  I’d really had it this time.  The ferry wallowed a bit as I stamped up the wet stairs, the spray spattering dirty water over the grey, slick deck.  No chance I’m looking back with hand on grieving heart, a misty tear for the bonnie purple heather standing in my  eye.

“Fuck you Scotland!” I screamed at the disappearing shore, “Fuck you, you crippling bastard of a country, with your rain, your darkness and your scurrying wee people!” I spat savagely, but the wind blew back a dribble down my scarf.  Typical.  Stupid bloody country.

Stupid country, where choice is something that happens elsewhere.

Born right into a clan-destiny, named where I drop, dropped into the name . My life, set into your bleak stone at conception. My history, my character, my social place, bred right into me.  My sense of humour, black bound to a land unrecognized, a political nowhere.  Tell that to the Scots though.  Try telling us, our identity is a shortbread fiction of tartan, tourists and a fractured history of hating our neighbours and each other.  Enemies are made easily here, real and imagined slights kept to a warm simmer over centuries. Feudal  memories as deep as the bones of the land.  All our myriad mistrusts, our divisions, our dour suspicion.

Are we barbour jacketed, green wellied, dour bog sloshers, stalking the manicured moors?  Junkies, intellectuals, football fans, socialists, inventors, warriors?  What is it you do to us, hard land, that makes us one, that strikes a core of granite through us all.

I have loved you past that core to the molten centre of me. I walked your wind scoured peaks, stole fish right out of your rivers.  Proud standing in your cities, I read Burns, I read Stevenson. Froze over ice cream in Princes Street Gardens, sweated the muggy, summer midge feast for your highland eagles and deer.  Got culture in Glasgow,  chlamydia in Aberdeen.  Danced wild ceilidhs in drunken, lurching byres and hunt balls in evening dress.  Drank ancient whisky elegantly.  And inelegantly.

I have loved you by lip and tongue, kissed the intimate wells of you, run my hands across the soft swelling Borders, laid my dark head between your dreaming hills.  Emerged, a Goddess, of your secretive waters, brought forth warriors and queens to your causes. My eyes were closed on your worship at the breast, I raised the banner of your fallen before me. The dearly beloved who walked your fields, tended your forests and fed your soul, they grew me, a lesser monolith to your haggard beauty. Every day’s breath of you carved deep into their weathered hands.

A brutal return of poverty, pain, loss and short lives, I saw. Love songs to barren land. You grew up through their feet, infusing their youth with fire and myth, legend and pride, word and song.  Until your creeping cold hobbled their walking, twisted tree knarled their hands and bent them to the prevailing wind. Struck them finally to the heart, cold memories in stone.

Shrugging my dripping jacket off, I make for the dining room and the certainty of horrible food, worse service..

“Away yer holidays?” asks the pasty faced woman, dishing me up a slimy sausage roll with red sauce.

“No”, I say rudely.

She hands me an extra napkin.

“Och well, hame’s no goin’ onnywhear, you’ll be back in nae time, eh?”

I balance the greasy paper plate on one hand, smile through my tears. Blow my nose.

“Prob’ly,” I say.

Read the other winners:

Promenade By James Carson

Snow Globes By Max Scratchmann

Photo Credit : Ferry to Skye by minispace