Old Flame

so good to see you
smoke-eyed stranger in the night
with blood on your teeth

when you spark that talk
sly fruit bloom on sullen trees
starlings fall like snow

I remember you
burning sweet Ballachulish
heather by the lake

in a hotel room
shadowed by the Three Sisters
and scented orange

we hoped our extinct
volcano might come to life
in that flash of light

 

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Photo by the author

Homecoming

I hesitate over the Hollyhock seeds,
a gift from an unwelcome visitor,
plucked from her coastal garden.
She wished to cultivate friendship
but this is not a land for expectations.
Some days there is too much sky
and the earth shrinks in subservience.
The northerlies and easterlies razor
high hopes to humble proportions.
I prepare soil sheltered by fencing
and umbrella bamboo, fronds scorched
by storm. I shake the Hollyhock seeds
into my palm. Alien, irregular. I sprinkle
and mark the spot with a scallop shell.
Three years on, a hot September, I return
from hospital having almost missed
first bloom; tall, triumphant and sizzling
cerise in a land that favours the small.

 

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Artwork by the author

 

My First Lobster

My lover brought me a lobster

fresh from The Pentland Firth.

My lover wove the creel, steered the boat,

laid the trap, hauled the rope,

boiled the catch.

 

The lobster was beautiful,

pink naked in newspaper.

My lover said, the best is in the tail.

I tore the claws and knuckles, butter sticky,

sucking, licking, probing, splitting,

searching soft white meat.

 

Afterwards,

shell broken, belly filled with seawater

I dreamed of the ocean floor

and my lover waiting.

 

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Photo of Dunbeath harbour by the author