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

 

Feel the Burn

city people drift
to the country
set fire
to their shoes

seven geese beneath
the alder tree
deep scars
like zeros

dreaming of the stars
many bonfires
on mars
like heroes

wagon trains grinding
a northern trail
again
and again

escaping like smoke
funeral pyres
remain
white settlers

scheming of scarlet
heaven on earth
cinders
like skin

float up in the dark
broken chimneys
crumble
to moss

country people drift
to the city
set fire
to their shoes

 

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Artwork by the author. Acrylic, household paint and collage on canvas.

 

 

 

 

Riding the Storm

December Storm

We drive south into a ferrous wind.
The sky unclenches. Fingers of rust
stain the peaks of Morven and Scaraben,
old blood on a crumpled sheet.
The land trembles with yesterday’s news.

Barbed and shredded. Bales of hay sheathed
in pink stack the sweetness of last summer.
Sheep dot and dash the fields like broken
teeth spat into a steel bowl. Crofts cower,
trees twist into submission. Amputation

-dislocation. Strike a pose. Resistance
is futile. Across the border smoke rises,
thin entrails signalling your departure.

 

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This original watercolour painting is for sale. Please email me if you are interested in making it yours.

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