WHAT IS A MAN

WHAT IS A MAN ???

THIS IMAGE, THIS MOMENT in First Wife has stayed with me from the first viewing, and with each revisit, I am left with the same strong emotions.

AT ONE STAGE, further along in the story, Bree asks Claire what Jamie is….Laird, Chieftain, Warrior, Soldier…..does he know what he is? And her mother, busily pounding herbs for a tincture, says “Oh yes, your father knows. He is a Man…..and that is no small thing.”

This scene was written for Television….it isn’t in VOYAGER, and it’s one of those perfect additions that compliment Diana’s Story….in fact adds to it, in such a beautiful way.

HERE IS A MAN torn apart by conflict, with his second wife Laoghaire, and the love of his life, his heart and soul, Claire, his newly returned to him, First Wife.

We all know what has gone before these photos….the shock, anger, both blaming the other, rage, passion, betrayal and above all else, fear….fear and misunderstanding.
Jamie is SO afraid of losing Claire again, and yet, when wee Joanie cries out “Da”, “Ma”, her face contorted with anguish, Jamie walks away from Claire, and we see him here…..putting his fear aside, to tend to wee Joanie.

“Who’s that woman?” she asks of him, and he stands there, answering her.
“She’s my wife, my first wife Claire…. I thought she was dead, but by the grace of god, she returned to me.”
And wee Joanie, brilliantly portrayed by Layla Burns, lifts up her face to him, asking.
“Wha’ about Ma?” Those words, the sorrow on her face, pierced my heart.
And Jamie tells her, gently, patiently “Your mother and I didna have a bond, that keeps two people together.” And she says to him “And you do with this woman?”
“Aye”, he says, “I do.”

THIS IS WHAT MAKES A MAN…..this ability to put aside every raging emotion that burns in his gut, his terrible fear that his soul mate will leave him, and comfort this small child.
This child he read stories to, took fishing, embraced with love, as his own even though she was not his kin. And as he tells her to go find Marsali, he drops down onto the stairs,sitting for a moment, catching his breath. The little girl walks a few steps, then turning, flings herself into his arms, and he enfolds her against his big body, once more, comforting her.

AND THEN, ONLY THEN, does he return upstairs to Claire.

AN ACTOR HAS TO DIG DEEP, and this is to me what Sam Heughan is.
Yes, he’s acting, but drawing from the deepest core of who he is, this rare, lovely, big hearted human. It is my belief that you cannot Act with this level of emotional integrity unless it’s a natural part of who you are.

A MAN !!!

MargaretArlen ©️
Spring. Central Victoria Australia 2019

Photos belong to STARZ

TIME TRAVEL

TIME TRAVEL, The all pervading sense that it’s real, that in another space and time my Ancestors exist….that they live, going about their daily lives unaware that they are dead. I am in a constant state of emotional turmoil….my head cannot grasp the concept at the same time as I am buying into it completely. We all have, haven’t we?

AND THERE’S THAT BOX OF LETTERS ….Sent from Jamie and Claire across the span of two hundred years, where they finally arrive at Jamie’s old home Lallybroch, to be read by Bree and Roger, and eventually to their Grandchildren. An act of Faith.

Listening to An Echo in the Bone a few days ago, I once more felt the sharp sting of tears as I hear Jamie’s voice speaking across the void of time…..December 31, 1776
“My dear daughter, as you will see if ever you receive this, we are alive.”
And yet, as Roger reads this to Brianna, we all know they are by now, surely dead.
Those letters, some written on the paper Bree made herself with tiny inclusions of an insect’s wing, a small flower petal or leaf, still in good condition, real, held, touched with love and awe, and read as we do the books, over and over again.
Bree sometimes feels the need to open the box when Roger’s away…..just to touch the same paper her parents have touched, to hold them close, sure as she opens the box that a soft whiff of medicinal herbs floats up and out through the opening lid….knowing the painful difficulties her beloved father has to endure to write to her specifically, with his maimed right hand.
“It is the Feast of all Saints….pray for me.”…..and her tearful response…..”Bloody man, I knew you’d make me cry.”

I cannot wrap my head around how those letter arrive in the Twentieth Century, I understand the concept, I believe they have arrived, yet no matter how many times I hear or read this story I am left asking the same question….”how did that box of precious letters travel through time???”

In a phone conversation with my eldest son today, he asked as he always does, what I was doing….so I told him I’d been searching for photos of handmade paper and an appropriate box for the piece I was writing tonight. That got us, mainly me, talking about Ancestry….about the very few precious details I have found out very recently.
And mentioning Outlander and the idea of time travel, I found myself too choked up to speak….I was trying to tell him that because of this extraordinary story, I feel my Ancestors near me, in a way I never had before. I suggested to him that perhaps they still exist in their own bubble of time…..My Grandmother and Great Grandmother, Little Tailors in London…..the three generations of Scottish Sea Captains…..of course I carry them with me, they live on through me…..but I meant more.
Are they still doing what they did, even though I’ve read the dates of their deaths.
I couldn’t go on, as my son spoke gently to me, patient, perplexed, puzzled.
He’s not been seduced by this strange, mysterious story…..that asks so many questions of us….leaves us caught up in its perfect, elusive mystery.

THE BOX OF LETTERS is an ongoing Enchantment.
THE SEDUCTION AND ENCHANTMENT OF OUTLANDER

MargaretArlen ©️
Summer, Central Victoria, Australia 2020

Random excerpts from An Echo in the Bone
By Diana Gabaldon

Photos of Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe are property of STARZ

REMEMBERING

RETURNING …..

IN JUST ONE MOMENT
AS HE REACHES OUT TO TAKE HER HAND
HE WILL LIFT HIS GAZE
EYES BOLD WITH WANTING
AS HE SOFTLY SAYS THE WORDS
“WILL Y’ COME TO BED WI’ ME, THEN”
HIS BREATH HELD FOR SECONDS
UNTIL SHE ANSWERS “YES”

ALL DOUBT, ANGER, JEALOUSY
FALL AWAY
AS THEY RISE FROM THE TABLE
MOVE AS ONE
EYES FIXED NOW
EACH UPON THE OTHER
SURRENDERING TO TRUST
LETTING IMAGES EMERGE
AND SETTLE THEM
REMEMBERING HOW IT WAS
BEFORE…..BETWEEN THEM

DISROBING
SLOWLY
SHE SEES THE PULSE BEAT
IN HIS THROAT
AND TAKES COURAGE FROM IT
UNFOLDS ANOTHER LAYER
NOW SHE IN SHIFT
HE IN SHIRT
THEY SMILE SHYLY
CAREFUL WITH EACH OTHER
THESE REBORN LOVERS

AND ALL THE HUNGRY
ACHING YEARS
OF LONELINESS AND NEED
SLIP SOFTLY TO THE FLOOR
AMONG THE LAYERS
OF THEIR CLOTHING
NOWHERE NOW TO HIDE
THEY LIFT THEIR EYES
NAKED, BOLD YET SHY
THEY SMILE

AND SMILE, REMEMBER HOW IT WAS
BETWEEN THEM
IT …WILL ….BE ….ALL ….RIGHT
AS THEY SMILE AND SMILE
TASTE THE AIR BETWEEN THEM
TAKING THAT FINAL STEP
TOWARDS SURRENDER
SHE FEELS HIS WARMTH
SURROUND HER
EMBRACE HER
MOVES TOWARDS THE JOINING
TWO, BECOMING ONE
ONE BODY, ONE SOUL
ONE LOVE, ONE LIFE
HER BELOVED HUSBAND
HIS CHERISHED WIFE

RETURNING
REMEMBERING
REJOICING
RENEWING VOWS
UNSPOKEN
NOTHING NOW
WILL BREAK THE TIES
THAT BIND THEM

Photo belongs to STARZ

MargaretArlen ©️.
Summer, Central Victoria, Australia 2019

THE YOUNG BRIDEGROOM

MICHELANGELO, BOTTICELLI, RAPHAEL

Shaped by the gods of Art
Sculpted by them
They look back down at him
From the Heavens
And smile their secret smiles
He has pleased them
This earthly god of Love
As he gasps with pleasure
Upon his Marriage Bed

They laugh benignly from above
Ahhhhhh, they say
With smirks of self satisfied praise
Just look what we have done
Just look what we have made
This Perfect God Of Love

♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

MA©️ Autumn 2019
On #Throwback Thursday



Photo courtesy of STARZ

THE LONG RIDE HOME

“THE BODY OF A WARRIOR
THE MIND OF A GENTLEMAN
AND THE SOUL OF A BARBARIAN”…..Diana Gabaldon

WOUNDED
BLOOD SMEARED
AND REEKING OF SWEAT
HE WAS FEARLESS AND BOLD
WHEN FIRST WE MET
FORCED ME WITH THREATS
AND CHALLENGING HIM
AT THE POINT OF HIS SWORD
I GAVE IN
I WENT THEN
WENT ON HIS HORSE
WRAPPED IN HIS PLAID

DAZED AND EXHAUSTED
HEAD WRACKED WITH PAIN
EARS STILL RINGING
WITH THE SCREAMS OF THE DEAD
TRAPPED IN THE HELL
OF MY COMING
NUMBED WITH THE
STONES STILL RINGING
UNWILLINGLY HELD IN HIS HEAT
HIS YOUNG BODY CLEAVING
WAKING, THEN SLEEPING
THE HUGE HORSE BENEATH ME
THE ROCKING RYTHM
HIS ARMS AROUND ME
HIS LEG MUSCLES TENSING
FLEXING, RELAXING
THROUGH THE LONG, COLD NIGHT
ON THAT LONG, LONG RIDE
SOAKED WITH RAIN
WARMED BY HIS HEAT
WRAPPED IN HIS PLAID
WE WERE ALREADY ONE
BEFORE WE WERE WED
ON THAT FIRST LONG JOURNEY
FROM THE PLACE OF THE DEAD

UNWILLINGLY BOUND
LOST, THEN FOUND
BY THE TIME WE DISMOUNTED
ME SPLATTERED WITH MUD
HE COVERED IN BLOOD
I LONGED FOR HIS HEAT
THE STRENGTH I HAD KNOWN
ON THAT LONG, LONG JOURNEY
BRINGING ME HOME
I CRAVED HIS WARMTH
I CRAVED HIS SMELL
WITH NO WORDS SPOKEN
MY BODY COULD TELL
HE FELT THE SAME….
UNWILLINGLY, I BELONGED TO HIM THEN
AND I STILL DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HIS REAL NAME

AND I STILL DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HIS REAL NAME

FOR CLAIRE AND JAMIE

MargaretArlen ©️.
Autumn, Central Victoria, 2020
Above Title by Diana Gabaldon
DRUMS OF AUTUMN

Photo belongs to STARZ

ARDSMUIR PRISON

WITHOUT HIS HEART

DESOLATION AND SORROW
GNAWING HUNGER
GRIEF AND RAGE
AND THE CUTTING WEIGHT
OF HIS PRISON CHAINS
HUMILIATION, DESPAIR
ALL ETCHED THERE
IN HIS BEAUTIFUL FACE

RELIEF FROM PAIN
AN ELUSIVE THING
TIL THE LABOUR IS DONE
AT THE END OF THE DAY
HE SEEKS OBLIVION
AT THE FALL OF NIGHT
WHEN HIS SOUL ROAMS FREE
SEEKING HIS WIFE

IN DREAMS SHE COMES
TO HIS STONE COLD BED
FREES HIS WRISTS
CRADLES HIS HEAD
TAKES HIM IN
GIVES HIM COMFORT
WARMS HIS ACHING BONES
WHISPERS HIS NAME
SHE BRINGS HIM HOME

THE FEEL OF HER SKIN
THE SMELL OF HER HAIR
PLEASURE IN DARKNESS
HE CALLS OUT HER NAME
IN THE COLD GREY DAWN
HE REACHES ONCE MORE
FOR THE WARMTH OF HER BODY
SUCCOUR AND GRACE
FEELS BENEATH HIM
THE STONE COLD FLOOR
CRIES LIKE A CHILD
FOR SHE WAS ONLY A DREAM
ALIVE IN THE NIGHT
NOW GONE FROM HIM

SORROW AND GRIEF
PAIN AND RAGE
THE LINES CUT DEEP
IN HIS BEAUTIFUL FACE
AND ALL THROUGH THIS DAY
HE REMEMBERS THE NIGHT
WHEN HE LAY IN THE ARMS
OF HIS BELOVED WIFE

For Jamie

MargaretArlen ©️ Wednesday Writings
Autumn, Central Victoria, Australia 2020

THIS TIMELESS LOVE

THE WAY SHE TOUCHES HIM
LONG FINGERS
CARESSING
LIGHTLY
AS HE IN TURN
REACHES OUT
AND CUPS HER CHEEK
SO, SO TENDER
ARE THESE LOVERS
WITH EACH OTHER

THEY’VE BORNE THE PAIN
OF LOSS AND SEPARATION
EACH ONE BARELY LIVING
WITHOUT THE OTHER
RETURNED ONCE MORE
THROUGH TIME
AND SPACE
THEY FIND THEMSELVES
RENEWED, REBORN
IN EACH OTHERS FACE

AND ALL IS WELL
NOW
BETWEEN THEM
ALL IS WELL…..
THE CHIMING BELL
OF ENDLESS TIME
RINGS FOR THEM
AND ALL, AND ALL
IS WELL

For Claire and Jamie

MargaretArlen ©️ Wednesday Writings
Autumn, Central Victoria, Australia 2020

IN MY DREAMS

“JUST THE TWO OF US, HIM AND ME”

I lean down to feed more sticks into the fire, keeping the heat high as the rich aromas of rabbit stew with wild onions, mushrooms and foraged greens fill our small cabin. Mouth watering. As the wind whistles under the eaves, I walk to the open doorway looking for him.

It’s a precious time with everyone gone momentarily, on business, hunting, visiting with neighbours, so, it’s just Jamie and me.

And there he is; the late afternoon sun casts a red gold glow on the sycamore trees, the leaves shifting and shimmering with the small breeze and, as I stand watching him, he turns towards me, his body outlined in gold as the sun sinks behind him, as the air cools, as he stretches and shifts the long muscled lines of his body.

I’m already wet with wanting……wanting him.

He sees it in my eyes, my smile, and leaving the plank of timber he’s been sawing, he carries tools back to the verandah’s sheltered shelves, puts them tidily away as I move towards him.

I can smell his sweat, the sharp scent of our earlier sex……
Intoxicating.

He gathers me in against him as I reach up to kiss his mouth, take his lower lip between my teeth, then, murmuring against his neck, “Come, food is ready, you must be starving.”
He laughs softly, “Aye, I am, but not for food, not just now, anyway “, and reaching down, he lifts my skirts, one big hand cupped around my waist, the other finds it’s way to the cleft between my legs.”

I cleave to him as he makes that small, soft moan deep in his throat. “Christ, ye’re already so wet”, and pulling me against him, he kisses me deeply, as I feel the laughter rising up in him, feel him hard against me.

“Eat later”, he says, and taking me by the hand, pulls me towards our fur covered bed. I can feel the heat of him.

My phone alarm rings, the harsh jolt of reality breaking through this beautiful dream, and yet, I can still hear the echo of his voice,
smell the strong male smell of him.
My face is wet with tears.
Was it really ONLY a dream???

WHEN DAY IS DONE

As light begins to fade

She gathers up her tools, regretfully

Birds softly twitter to each other

In the far off trees

The evening dim is falling

She hears vixens calling

To their cubs nearby

A wild, lonely, piercing cry

And feels the urgent pull inside herself

For him

Apron stuffed with fragrant herbs

Aromatics, medicinal, perfumed

Hands full, back tired from bending

She stands up, easing stiffness

Stretching

Suddenly needing comfort

The warmth of him

********

The long days work is done

There’ll be more tomorrow

His body aches from chopping wood

He still feels the axe blade’s rhythmic swing

All the way from thigh muscles

Hips, shoulders

Through to his hands

Clenching and unclenching them

The song of steel on wood

Still ringing in his ears

So that he doesn’t hear her coming

Until she stands before him

Lays down her basket

Moves quietly behind him

Lays hands upon his shoulders

Strong fingers work their way

Deep into hard flesh

She feels him yield

Let all tiredness fall from him

Pain and aching bones

Cramped muscles

Easing, loosening

Letting go

*******

And now as darkness closes round them

The smell of her surrounds him

Fresh, sharp, pungent, clean

The gatherings of her calling

White Lady, She

Yet now her call is silent

As she leans in towards him

As she breathes pinesap, sweat and whisky

The deep male smell of him

Irresistible, intoxicating

He gathers her to him then

Takes her small hand in his

All tiredness gone from both of them

Revived, there is nothing now but hunger

Desire, one for the other

******

One flesh

Beloved husband

Cherished wife

Like the auld story of the Greylag Geese

Mated for life.