We are leaving the sweltering hot climate of the south and race our way north to the Scottish Highlands! Tiffany Vakilian has reached down into Scotland’s roots to draw out its spirit…I feel prouder by the second that I can call myself a Scot (thanks great-grandma Allison!) and with that thought, we present:


I wish I could tell a tale less cryptic, but these are my last moments again, and eternity is trying to make itself fit in these tiny words. They called out a crime that sounded out of tune, and a sentence of death to follow in refrain. It is easier to kill sometimes. I see her in the crowd, waiting for me as patiently as a seed in the ground.

They wanted to understand. They always wanted to understand. But our differences were so obvious, how could we be as we claimed to be? Better to make us criminals, than to address their criminal nature where we were concerned.

I will die again with the memory of her power, and her chocolate brown skin. She was a rare one, a walking revolution. She refused to be silent in the rite. She prayed for her sisters to come out from under, and she sacrificed her homeland to give her children the freedom of the air around them. But someone had to take her place. Someone had to take her daughter’s place. So I wait here, knowing I am going to die. I run my fingers over the knots of my homeland and remember that I chose to give this life, kneeling but free.

I keep thinking of her. She is my touchstone. The first. She stood like a goddess at her choosing. She read her statement. It’s is engraved in these, my last heartbeats.

It always is.

They have begun to beat the drums. The familiar ache starts in my belly and eases to my crotch like fire to an oiled trail. I can’t unfurl my wings, but the desire to leap out to the sky is there. To dance with the moon is a need pulling my hair like a spouse in that deeply rooted lovemaking born of apology and anger. It will not be different this time.

But one day it will be.

Someone asks, “D’ya have any last words?” Even as they place the bag over my head. I cry out. “I could die my own! But I give my life to you! For you!” A punch crashes into my skull, and I see stars. The blow landed well, as I can feel the singular ruining pain of my dislocated jaw. Perhaps it is broken. It doesn’t matter. I’ve said what I needed, and this one will be over soon.

Her face remains with me. It always does. She is as marvelous in her human skin as the myths say, but they refuse to see her as I do, with her chocolate brown skin. It is as much earth and sea as it is seal and human, as it is tree, as it is stone. She is so beautiful, I don’t feel the pain in my face. I don’t feel the way they tie me haphazardly to the rowan tree. Fools. The rowan tree is her tree.
That is how she knows it is me.

“Do you truly give your life?” Her voice is a strummed string cutting through the cacophony of curious onlookers and armed men carrying out my death. Of course I do. But how can I tell her? If only she could see the one tear fall from my face under this veil. The resounding yes. I was born for this death.

I feel the lines of the knots in my skin begin to burn. I know that they are glowing. She has heard my heart and we have entered negotiation once again. “Will you die for them?” she says. I can’t form the word, but I bow my head.

“Will you suffer this pain, with your innocent blood?”

I am scared every time. But yes. Yes, I will. She knows my answer.

The first piercing pain rips into me and razor thin fire follows its trail across my neck. I am not dead. I am simply mutilated. Or buried underwater. Or burned until you can’t tell my skin from the ashes. She asks again. “Will you break into a million years and a million drops for these, humans?”

I will.

Minutes run to hours, hours careen into days and months. Years. A generation or two. And then I find myself in a new age, renewed, waiting to die. And she asks over and over and over. And I say yes. And I will say yes. Until she forgives them. Until they can truly see one another. Until the chocolate brown of my skin is as beautifully flayed as the bark of her rowan. Of my rowan.

In Scotland, I wonder if I am allowed this dream
The world has pulled off one of its many faces
Ethnicity is the public secret of races
And my beautiful magic may not beauty to them be

In Scotland, I have knots woven about me
Around and through my viscous heart
And only miles keep me apart
I’ll stand upon a hill with the stone shores shouting

In Scotland, I am no more and not yet
A beautiful implosion of hope and complexity
My dream shifts, soundless, entering and exiting
This changing concept of a “someday” bet

In Scotland, I am asleep and there are winds blowing
Light and time and rowan and star
Although I’ve not yet seen that far
The hope to see has my spirit glowing

Somewhere, a woman writes a poem. She thinks it is her own creation. Within her heart, she knows better. She is reaching out. I’m waiting.


Tiffany and her writing never fail to find that part inside of us that wants to get out so bad that it aches. I have no fear for our future.

Don’t forget to leave Tiffany a wonderful comment and SHARE!!! Contest deadline is MARCH 4TH, 2017 AT 11:59PM PACIFIC TIME!!!

Can I put a request in for *NSYNC’s “Tearin’ Up My Heart”? WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT’S NOT HOW THIS WORKS?!

12 thoughts on “NEXT STOP: SCOTLAND!

  1. Diane Cresswell says:

    Tiffany you bring forth a spark that is as ancient as the Rowan and the souls that begin and end at its base. The piece is filled with this knowing from deep within. Amazing my dear – simply amazing. So well written – from the soul.

    • Tiffany V says:

      You know it’s funny; I had a heart to heart about capitalizing the R in rowan and decided against it. I was scared to share this, like it was too deep or something. Thanks for what you said, Diane.

  2. Michael Stang says:

    There comes a moment in a writer’s life when all the pieces fit precisely on the page as if in writing the orchestra comes in and the song is but an extension of the soul. You will reflect on this story, again and again, I know I will. It is so good to see you do this, X. Bravo!

    • Tiffany V says:

      I can say it felt deeper in the writing space than I’ve ever gone for something I was going to share with the caliber of AWWYP. I can honestly say that you guys make me want to “dive deeper than before” every time. Can’t wait to read more submissions!

  3. David Jenkins says:

    Tiffany, What an incredible piece. The women in my life were/are so beautiful. All the beauty, courage and pain through every tragedy imaginable came boiling to the surface as I read this story and poem. It created in me love, anger, passion and compassion for those women who have gone before, are with me now and will come to me as I transition to the other side. Thank you.

  4. Miryam says:

    Captivating piece Tiffany…. Such talent and exquisite writing. I’m sure if read more than once it will take me deeper.
    Thank you.

  5. Parisianne Modert says:

    Despite my disagreements in the use of commas, incomplete sentences and other punctuations, I found the richness of poetic, story telling and emotive images from within worthy to be called the best entry as of the afternoon of March 7th.

    The Rowan is often referred to as the goddess tree in Scotland which centered the selfless sacrifice in my opinion in the prose. The use of knot was brilliant in both the prose and poetry.


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