When berries wrap yer peelie lips wi robes
o russet bushes; when wabbit roots arouse
yer autumn weeds; ye lass, faaen fae boughs,
bespice the cep-grown, apple-ripe eve
that fire ashes hue. Yer shouders, sae blate
an blue, hae gien the birks a fleg o luve.
See them, shudd’rin, bark-free, écorché, nude
in hugs o haw. Abreist, yer breith hae blawn
oor noontide oot —beclooded, brief, tho blythe
in quick-paced psalms o elder seeds.
Tak yon gloamin heaps; they’re yers tae praise,
yers an yers alane, fir yella twigs
hae grat yer hair; their tears like prayer beads—
an me, tint, faurer atween yer thigs.
When berries wrap your pale, white lips with robes
of russet bushes; when tired roots arouse
your autumn weeds; you girl, fallen from boughs,
bespice the cep-grown, apple-ripe night
that fire ashes hue. Your shoulders, so shy
and blue, have given birch trees a scare of love.
See them, shuddering, bark-free, écorché, nude
in hugs of haw. Abreast, your breath has blown
our noontide out —beclouded, brief, though blithe
in quick-paced psalms of elder seeds.
Take those twilight heaps; they’re yours to praise,
yours and yours alone, for yellow twigs
have wept your hair; their tears like prayer beads—
And me, lost, further between your thighs.
Upon visiting Richard Cameron’s cairn
Haunds jyned abreist the cairn, ower by
Airds Moss muir; drookit, denim breeks whaur
Christ’s zealots knelt and fell; I ettle
high, ney, inby, fir yonder truth that
dang crooned heid-yins doon; fir yonder
wird turnt tae flesh in Sanquhar.
Saints souch ‘roon ma hood an Ah feel at the peep o ma
youth, here, whaur the bowsterous tirrivees o man’ s faith are still
sweet, siccar, an dearly echoed by the martyr’s amour. It is
noo, here, that Ah maun owercome aa thae craves o the yird an their
hairs, horns, smuirs, scars, kisses an middens an howes. It is
noo, here, that Ah cuid owerthraw; an Ah wuid, aye, Ah wuid,
ach! Gin Voltaire didnae crouse in the pangs o ma psalm.
Hands joined, abreast the tomb, alongside
Airds Moss moor; drenched, denim jeans where
Christ’s zealots knelt and fell; I aim
high, near, inwards, at that remote truth that
brought crowned, big heads down; at the remote
word turned to flesh in Sanquhar.
Saints sigh ‘round my hood and I feel at the crack of my
youth, here, where the boisterous struggles of man’s faith are still
sweet, secure, and dearly echoed by the martyr’s amour. It is
now, here, that I must overcome all the cravings of the earth and their
hairs, horns, smothering, scars, kisses, and dirt and hollows. It is
now, here, that I could overthrow, and I would, yes, I would
ach! If Voltaire didn’t wry in the pangs of my psalm.
Paul Malgrati is a scholar and poet from France, writing verse in both Scots and French. His debut collection, Poèmes Écossais, shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award, is forthcoming in 2022 with Blue Diode Press. As an academic, Paul is also working on a monograph about the political legacy of Robert Burns, forthcoming with Edinburgh University Press in 2023.