Nae sicht o siller on the hills the day,
jist broon, broon and the reid deer
arenae the anely eens joukin oot there.
Yon warehoos gadgie in his dun
coat, oxtered ledger, pencil snug
ahint the ither lug, he’s keen –
chasin on up tae check fits neist aff.
And leuk at me! Stappit for a stretch
in the sma weet, wi a muckle black brolly,
peelie-wallie gress whiskers rustlin a roon,
scraps o birsilt heather, and the rocks,
the rocks, at least they’re yeesed tae’t.
There’s the doctor noo, haddin ontae his hat,
belted gabardine, spangin through the bracken
in his brogues. A the khaki regiments,
they reached the braeheid lang syne,
jist a fustlin files fae them.
Truth be telt, we’re fair burstin for the future
this winter. Abody else is on the hame-gaun
back doon throu the broon glen,
but that camouflaged, it’s gey easy
tae miss them.
siller: silver | joukin: hiding | stappit: stopped | peelie-wallie gress: feeble grass | birsilt – wind-burnt | yeesed: used | haddin: holding | spangin: striding | lang syne: a long time ago | fustlin files: whistling sometimes
It wis the hecht o simmer, lang efter bindins were lowsed
and fences forgotten. Wee flooers lichtened the sweet gress
a aroon. Proud Maisrie’s muckle strunt hid finally eased,
she’d lauched wi the Gairdner chiel and noo she wid mairy him.
It wis a happy day. But wi abody at the waddin
and the sneck neither faistened on the yett, nor the kitchen,
oot loupit the pigs; and losh, they fairly went tae toon.
Far mair nor the meal, the hoos and the gairden was spylt;
Maisrie’s tears and hurt cowpit aw weys, and, by God,
she could pizen her dairts gin she winted. She cursit
the gruim, his mither and abody in baith faimlies.
Peer loon, his bloom wis birsilt and blackened fae that day forth.
But you’re richt. Things didnae need tae hiv bade ruint,
but sometimes, is that nae the wey these auld stories rin?
There wis naethin Child Ballad aboot oor tragedy.
Flichts and twa nichts at the Maison Marguerite, bookit
in fine time for the hale faimlie tae see Le Tapis
de Fleurs, sur la plus belle place du monde in Brussels.
If anely the twins hidnae taen thon bug, nor the planes
been delayed, sae that Stuart and Jeanne waited for oors,
disputin foo tae deal wi his redundancy! –
and if Jim hid nivver bocht thon bottles. Gin we left,
there wis a lot tae mop up. But noo I’m hame,
and God be thankit sitting on my ain cairpet
in Stuart’s auld room, tryin tae settle mysel doon.
There’s a box I’m starin at, stuck unner the wardrobe.
I howk it oot; it’s his auld widden skweel recorder,
and I mind the fichts to mak him practise Ode to Joy.
Freude: Joy | hecht: height | lowsed: loosened | gress: grass | muckle strunt: big huff | waddin: wedding | sneck: latch| yett: gate | cowpit aw weys: spilled everywhere | pizen: poison | loon: boy | birsilt: burnt | bade ruint: stayed ruined | rin: run | Le Tapis de Fleurs, sur la plus belle place du monde: “The carpet of flowers on the most beautiful square in the world” | anely: only | thon: that | oors: hours | howk: dig | widden: wooden | skweel: school | fichts: fights
Catherine Eunson was a joint winner of the 2018 McCash Scots poetry prize, and also composes music for poetry, some of which was featured in Poetry at Sunset at the StAnza poetry festival 2020.