The west highlands of Scotland are a snapshot of the earth’s slow riot. Brutal crags rip into the sky alongside wide verdigris valleys slashed with ice-white streams. The turf is a thin layer of skin over a stark and statuesque skeleton. I stare at the barren slopes of the Three Sisters of Glen Coe, close to perceiving the memory of trees that hangs like mist around the peaks. Folklore names this place the Glen of Weeping not for the waters springing from the hilltops but for the 17th-century massacre that saw 38 MacDonalds hunted to death in the snows. Some trick of the valley’s acoustics makes the shivering wind into a Fomorian death rattle.
Sorrow’s bloated memory chokes the glen. We men of remembrance project these thoughts here, and the feeling is as real as the ground I stand upon. Why must we hang on to these visions of flesh and blood? Our ability to forget the horrors of life is all that carries us through it. Especially here in Scotland, where the land’s heart beats so close to the surface of the earth, the stains of the past should be allowed to wash away. I want the Three Sisters embroidered with the foliage of ancient trees so that memory, too, might finally burn off in the frail sun.