Throwing Muses
Kristin Hersh
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"They Sound Human" by Kristin Hersh, August 24 2008 (originally published on

They sound human, these crazy birds. Their cries are maniacal laughter, shrieking guffaws. Billy and I freeze, staring into each other’s eyes, unable to find a category for this sound. I’m holding my guitar on the stage at St. Cecilia’s, he’s plugging in my effects. Well, he was plugging in my effects, now we’re both confused and still.

Until we look up. St. Cecilia’s is the oldest venue in Scotland (second oldest in the whole UK). It has an intricately constructed skylight which, in the summertime, lets light in about twenty hours a day. Right now, the tireless Scottish sun is blotted out by hundreds of laughing, screaming birds flying overhead.

Soon, it will be hidden by torrential rain, but we’re familiar with that sound. During the day, we tear around Edinburgh on foot, rain or shine, like it’s going away, like we’re gonna miss something.

It’s really us that’s going away. This is not enough time to be in Scotland. Not enough time to love everyone we meet, not enough time to watch gorgeous dogs run on the green, not enough time to drink tea as strong as whisky and whisky as strong as god, not enough time to breathe clean meadow air, not enough time to gawk at real-actual-gazillion-year-old-no-fucking-kidding castles, not enough time to soak up pub culture (and make ‘em dance!).

I’m going to miss all this plus black rosehips and rhubarb yoghurt. The Scots sure made it easy for me to show up at work every day and be a goddamn play, of all things. I’m gonna miss that, too.