I heard the slop of indolent waves on the stony shore and the hollow, booming emptiness of the sky as it passed over the hills like a breath through macrolithic vocal chords. Loch Ness was taught, bound up in an unfathomably deep cleft in the earth, and forced to run for 20 miles to escape the sentinel ridges guarding its length. My spine tingled as the rough red rocks beneath my feet grumbled against each other. The inky waves jostled and created the spectres of kelpies and slithering things that should not be: The visions of others. An odor like a cloying broth of cold-stewed vegetation suffused the air. Ragged tendrils of clouds drifted over the loch between me and ruined Urquhart Castle on the opposite bank.
In the sixth century Saint Columba purportedly defeated sea beasts at Loch Ness. Such feats of magic certainly boosted his reputation in the eyes of the Pictish kings he hoped to convert to Christianity. Saints’ lives are notoriously pseudo-historical, and yet something does seem to lurk beneath this span of black rippled glass. It is a mirror, a playground for the brief lives of subconscious art. Columba saw monsters in a heathen land. I saw a shifted perspective – we were all mayflies among these sleeping giants.