One Size Fits All In Broken Tartan

For a while I wondered if my grandmother was magic. You see she would talk about the night she spent near Culloden. How my grandfather slept on sound, and she was tossed through dreams of screaming men. The English and their guns, against the all those clansmen, come to die. For a while I believe she’d walked the battle in her dreams.

The tartans, like welsh (for a while) were outlawed to break that spirit. Make them less like them, and more like us. Then they only rise against themselves. The English are very good at making adversaries of themselves.

When a friend shows me her family tartan, there was a plucking sort of feeling. An ache for a history only half understood, and twice removed. I could find it, put it on, but somehow I doubt I would fit. Not enough of the right stuff in me, to tie me into the pattern. Made me wonder how much of myself I can claim.

The loch waters rose

and I saw my own face there

to deep to be reached.



  1. Oh I love how you saw the tartan in the painting… so obvious when you look at it now. So much that you have to live to understand, the importance of your clan, and the bloodshed… frightening and maybe something real that will come back one day


  2. Your haibun blew my mind, Carol! It does look like broken tartan! Now I want to spend a night near Culloden to see if I can hear the battle. I’m interested in Scottish, Welsh and Irish history and the defiant rebellions, and I agree that the English are very good at making adversaries of themselves. Tartan is a special fabric. Your haiku is stunning.


  3. Of course it’s a tartan plaid!!!! It is amazing how my view can sift when reading another post…or listening to the podcast from BBC. The idea of the clan’s identity (sometimes power?) being invoked by the tartan…each with it’s own plaid. It’s interesting how clothing can become a powerful symbol….for an individual or as group-think or as a clan/community/group.


  4. There were several episodes of OUTLANDER a couple of seasons ago that vividly portrayed the battle at Culloden; which reminds me of our Gettysburg. I’vde always been fascinated by Scottish history, believing I may have spent a past life there; lol.


  5. I loved the story of your grandmother, and the haiku took my breath away. It’s exquisite!
    I read the Outlander series long ago, but have not watched the TV series.


    1. Less whether it would fit, more whether I’d have the right to wear it. It’s such an element of national pride and I sometimes worry that perhaps I’m too English to really embrace that side of my heritage.


  6. Wonderful haibun, Carol…love how you see the plaid of a tartan in the artwork. I got that “plucking sort of feeling” from reading your words.


  7. Such an honest haibun, Carol. I love the descriptions of the tartan and the history behind them. Most of all, I admire how you conveyed the raw feeling of yearning for your identity. Beautiful


    1. Thank you. I always felt like my grandparents had such strong national identities. My grandmother was Irish and could speak Gaelic fluently, my grandfather was Scottish and used to joke that we came from sheep thieves and cattle rustlers. I’m hoping that once Covid has settled down I’ll be able to visit Scotland and Ireland to connect to those roots a little more.


  8. sounds like a visit to those places might help clarify your own identity … the complexity of history woven in this tartan is wondrous! And we can’t deny those strong callings 🙂


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