Rinansay

 

Sheep and kirk,

croft and lighthouse,

wreck on treacherous reef;

 

green, gold, grey, 

crumbling stone, lichen-

covered – every inch 

 

could have been touched

by hand, hoof or gull’s

stick leg. Dig and dig,

 

find new meaning in 

layers of soil, of 

genealogy. 

 

Re-invent 

this subtle, parallel

place, that makes north

 

true, possible, outlined,

like a ghost’s drawn breath.

 

 

 

 

Forecast

 

Light fractures on a quilted sky,

heart drops like the barometer

thumps like the prehistoric drum

heralds winter tumbling wildly

the way it does and must have done

in ancient times, over fields, stones, beasts

and rooftops heavily fastened down.

 

There would have been unease in their eyes,

the very young and old wrapped up,

fires tended anxiously and stores laid in,

food eked out and sacrifices made

to some rippling-muscled, temperamental

gods, who caught, once in a while

their flash of their life.

 

They might be surprised to know

the world is small. An unprotected eyeball

revolving near a star; and we’re blinding it slowly,

blotting out history, by degrees.

 

The ancients banged the drum

for fear. Accessing a void

or something we can’t find.

Marking the luxury of time.

 

 

 

Jimmy at Brodgar

 

Through a plague of exuberant flies

we tread Brodgar’s perimeter,

touch deep-cut, nineteenth century letters;

older seeming than the ancient stone they desecrate.

 

It’s calm, brimful of summer light.

You ask about the lochs and parish boundaries,

read the information boards from corner to corner;

talk about turbines on the horizon.

 

Next day, a message comes  –

your father’s not expected to last the night.

He was proud, you say, that you’re in another world,

writing poetry, trying your wings.

 

He wouldn’t want you to run back.

Still, I watch you later, head in hands,

clutched by the grief that is just arriving.

He dies without you; at dawn you fly home.

 

What have you exchanged for those last moments?

Determined, like the flies that stuck to us at Brodgar,

you stayed the course, touched stone,

declared yourself a poet; took off alone.