Ardrossan

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It’s how the wind strikes the face.

like being lifted in a dancer’s arms

to the sound of a music

that is filled with memories and promise.

And there you were, face alight

silent laughter filling your body

with a bounce and a restless

kinetic urgency drawn from the waves.

You’re like a child, free at last

from the burden of a daily care

and allowed to run wildly

and to daub your paint on your canvas.

A setting out, froth and spray

a salt cleaning of all those mistakes

that have crushed and silted you,

weighed you down and turned your shoulders inward.

There ahead, blown towards us,

heralded by the cries of seagulls

find a climb to the wildness

of mountain ridges and simplicity.

It’s only now on this quay

that the struggle out of a darkness

of a misapprehension

can be seen in the glinting of your eyes.

On passing Tryvan

imageThe old man slept in the clouds

Nose turned to find the scent of heaven

Beyond the reach of my footsteps.

Spurned, I sped past, intent

On the same search by a different route.

Not that the raw simplicity,

The bare rock and the wind,

The strain of muscle and sinew,

The idea of completion,

Did not tug at me.

But I sped past, intent

On finding the still voice

In the interplay

Of melodic lines, rooted

In human endeavour

From the Machair Sands

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We walked the sands in silence.

The music came from a beat

outside time as the rolling world

sang through the sea’s fall.

To say the sands were white;

To say the sea was blue;

To say the mountains cased

our view with grandeur;

these words would deceive you.

We were in colours that glowed

through us, through our core

and took away all words

and stretched us across the beach

in dumb enchantment.

Harris

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The roads tiptoe across the rock-studded

land, tripping between dark pools and peat-scrapes.

They’re like tourists in an ancient culture –

a surface noise that slips across the truth

of the island where always the wind is king.

Homes hunker down trying not to be seen

by the shrieking rage of regal vengeance

once it has wiped the fixed grin of Summer

from its fury. It yearns to scour the earth,

to scrub it until the old bare sculpted

rock shines new and clean in the Winter cold.

Only the patterns of lichen as friends,

the wind wraps its solitude in wildness

and hurls the rain at shivering heartbeats.

Penmenmawr

Penmenmawr

 

Like a silted puddle in a derelict

Scrapyard, I lie undisturbed by striving.

Behind me stands a grave of industry

Scarring the mountainside.

Before, the growl of restlessness

Sweeping by on its concrete stilts.

This town is a cemetery –

Old chapels slump open mouthed

Gaping monuments to lost modesty –

Shops bleed unwanted mail

In their bankruptcy –

No curtains twitch –

No laughter echoes –

The sea rolls against the unkempt shore

Beyond the piss-stained underpass.

God it seems has retreated

To the road to the hills,

To take rest behind walls

Of stone in lovingly tended

Gardens, where birds sing their songs

Where the fox ambles through my dreams.

Misty Valley

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We are guided through the boglands

And the bracken by trails of stone

Meandering over contours

Hidden to our elevation.

The walls’ ramshackle endurance

Attest to the unknown labours

That create and sustain this view;

To men and women who stride out

In the face of blizzards and gales;

Who plunge arms into frightened ewes

To haul new life into the world;

Who hack and hew in the woodlands

To save the habitat’s balance;

Who drive fence posts through rock and marsh

Whilst clouds of insects suck their blood.

This glory of texture and shade

Is their and our reward, given depth

By the moving mantles of mist

Burning off in the morning sun.

 

This is another of a series of poems that were inspired by a book, “Scenes Through Different Eyes”. This was a collaboration between Phil McMenemy, a photographer whose images he has allowed me to post here and Julie Dumbarton, an artist whose work can be seen on her website (www.juliedumbarton.com). They each brought their own skills and vision to the same landscape to create a beautiful book. Phil’s work can be explored on his Facebook page (www.facebook.com/GalleryAtLaurieston/) or on his website (https://philmcmenemy.smugmug.com/). Having bought the book, I didn’t want it to sit ignored on a coffee table and so I wrote a sequence of poems that forced me to look and think about the photographs and paintings. They will be posted here over the next few weeks.

Aran Fawddy

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We stand, boot shod, dampened

By mists, winds chilling our faces,

The climb to come is held

In a cloud of the unknown,

Both softened and stretched

In our imagination.

 

The height of ambition

Is of no matter. Only the direction

And certainty of the next footstep

Through mud; sheep droppings

As our pathway, streams of water as our road.

 

The ribbon path rises

Enforcing solitude through its narrow

Minded singleness of purpose

And view. It is not the climb

That wearies, but the valley’s changeless

Tones cushioned in cloud.

 

The land opens up, marsh

Not green and not brown, platform to no view

Save a real climb into shadow

In a dank coat of not-grey.

The strain is a relief, the effort

An assurance of progress.

 

Until we arrive, not

At the summit whose cairn, cold and befogged

Is dwarfed by the lower

Monument that stands erect

Over the valley, given a new

Presence by the mystery of life’s passing.

 

Later the memorial

Points us away from the shroud

To emerging green hues, sun shadows,

And at the mountain foot

Vivid oranges and yellows, Autumn

Beauty still in the tomb’s sightline.

 

November 2004