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Updated: Jan 1, 2024


"Heck, Kelpies eat people. They may not play with their food as creatively as the Each Uisge, but dead is dead.”

― E.J. Stevens


Do you feel safe?

In the valley,

Near the lakes and rivers

And rocky greens

You have walked since you were new.

Do you remember?

Young, and laughing with your brother,

Near the home,

Blue eyes bright with sky-blue innocence

And summer freckling warm

Across your face.

You, with coltish limbs

And gangling adolescence,

Between the worlds

Of childhood and of age.

Too wise to listen to your mother’s

Nagging wishes, and her superstitious


Too young to join the men, with whiskey’d breath,

As they scoff and spit at a maiden’s worry,

But do not meet your eyes,

Until the drink has mellowed down

To soft whispers

Half spoken memories

And doubt.

You have joined those men now.

Stiff limbed, and age-worn,

With glints of hard-won steel,

Burning with the knowing

In your eyes.

Where is that brother?

With hair that flickered like a flame

Against your russet,



Young enough still that

The scent of milk had not yet

Faded from round limbs.

Young enough not to know

The fear your mother whispered in your ears.

It took me three days.

Three days of flickering in the corners

Of his vision,

Prancing, playful, hooves flashing

In the dim sunlight

That slithered through

The mist.

Every time, your eyes drifted,

Turned towards the far horizon,

With dreams of how you would make your fresh

Escape. A big city. Proud career.

Not stuck in your father’s, father’s, father’s home,

A cottage underneath

The shadow of the mountains

That I chose to roam.

You should have watched more closely.

But, if you had,

I would not have fed so well.

Come now,

Do not scream,

The way you did before the grey

Had dusted moonlight up and down your brow.

I ran, you chased,

Laughter catching on the wind,

Distorted through my horse’s throat,

The child tangled

In my tricky mane.

Do not feel guilt that you could not catch me.

My kind so rarely relinquish their prey.

Had you been faster,

Struggled more,

I still would not have let

The young thing go.

Come, old man,

The years sit heavy on you,

And the waters of my home,

Are dark and cool.

Come, old man,

And let the years spill from you,

Draining red beneath the sky.

Come, old man.

Don’t you hear your brother crying?

Don’t you see him soft and pale?

Don’t you hear your mother’s wail,

The day that you came home alone?

Come, old man.

Into the depths,

Where I can claim you.

Where your little brother,


To say


Insp. Scottish myths of water-horses


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