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(18/8/1947 / Aberdeen)

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In Faldy's Wood (9 poems)

In Faldy's Wood

The little tree in Faldy's wood
Holds up its waving arms
For morning with its pearls of dew
To string with water charms

At dusk amongst the quiet fields
Where rabbits trim the grass
It watches owl, a flying cloud
Across the meadows pass

The little tree in Faldy's wood
Has mosses at its feet
And birdsong echoes round its head
Like bells that tinkle sweet


Fadlydyke New Year

Wind here can be bitter
Turning chaff brittle and sharp
Draining the earth of warmth

It carries within it
The smell of growth, of seasons

Night has opened its doors
Letting the stars stream out

How many harvest moons have watched
The fields churned to mud
The fields dunged by the patient, heavy cattle?

Wind snags in the thorn bush,
Listens to the shenanigans of cats
Fighting and coupling under the webby rafters

No-one is out there, now
In the lamb-shorn farm
Just the soil, the steadings, the trees
Holding it all together

Wind rushing and sighing
Rushing and sighing
Like a mouse's breath
The fox, steps through the floating mist
Rising up from the fields, as the earth exhales
Like a sleeping, pleasured woman

Cropped, polled, lopped and scythed,
The acres, sweet and fertile
Lie beautiful, arranged like a table set for guests
Preparing the raw ingredients
The moon's cold fingers, making the crystal sparkle


Pine

You weave the tales of the sky
A seannachie, calling the deer
To tryst and shelter
Under your blue-green boughs.

Your trunk's a caber,
Cracked like new-baked bread
Each branch is a sabre.
Your roots strike deeply down
Capercailzie crusty
Skin of leveret brown.

Twinned greenlings,
Your needles cling
To a sinewy, brawny arm
A-sway with infant cones
That bob, cork-like on the breeze
A maze of candles
Eighteen months a-ripening
A timber Witan
(Squirrel-red at the core)
Afloat amongst pine-wood trees.

Each cone holds a charcoal shadow
At its mooring
Each small, dry granary
Splits and opens its doorway
Wide as a wing.
The wind's a ferry
Transporting each tight seedling.
Your castaways meet the ground
Like a shower of bodkins
Pine, you are rough to touch
As an unshaved cheek
With rhythms taut and true
As a fiddler's bow
You smell of cloudy moorland
Dark and mist and snow
Ochon ochrie, it's sad I am
To be far from you this night.
I would never change you
Not for a thousand willows


The Cabbage Song:
Tune: If it wisna for the Wark o the Weavers

Chorus:
Cabbages are vegetables you grow them in the ground
They're cheap and they're nutritious and they're very easy found
And lots of healthy vitamins they give you for a pound
And around the world they're used in many dishes

In Korea there is Kimchi, in Romania Sarmala
In Germany there's sauerkraut, as well as coleslaw
In Poland there's golumpi made with relish by your ma
Oh the caggage is as good as loaves and fishes

There's bubble and squeak in Britain, there's soups and casseroles
There's German Borscht and stir fry and salad strips in bowls
The worms they really love them and they chew them into holes
Oh the cabbage that's as good as loaves and fishes

There's Drumhead, Greyhound, Promasa and Wivoy
There's Meteor and Ruby Ball, Salarite and Savoy
There's Grenadier and Charmant and there's Tai-sai, boy o boy!
They're the cabbages as good as loaves and fishes

Oh the cabbages have cousins, you must know them very well
They're the Brussel sprouts, the broccoli, the cauliflower and kail
They're very rich in vitamins, low in in cholesterol
Oh the cabbage is as good as loaves and fishes

In history the cabbage was a cure for many things
For headaches and for heartburn for nipple pain and stings
And folk with constipation claim that quick relief it brings
For the cabbage that's as good as loaves and fishes


Winter-Time
Tune: Oats & Beans and Barley Grow

Doremice, hedgehogs shut their eyes
And sleep till flowers begin to rise

Chorus:
Winter time brings cold and snow
When some birds come and others go

Ladybirds and toads are found
To sleep when frost is on the ground

Chorus

Curling, skiing, skates that glide
All is white the country wide

Chorus

Hats & scarves and boots and coats
Coughs and sneezes, tickly throats

Chorus

Roads that freeze and schools that close
Snow drifts where the blizzard blows

Chorus


The Deepest Rest

Slip and Slide and slither
To work on roads of ice
Slip and slide and slither
The world's in Winter's vice

Up on a bough, a robin
Is wearing a snowy crest
And frost's in the wicker circle
Of his chilly, homespun nest

Now old age is felt keenly
When life is nearly done
Slip and slide and slither
Towards the setting sun

Down to the ancient mystery
The Holy Grail of the quest
Down to the grave's seclusion
To Death, the deepest rest


Winter Landscape
(Detail) Winter Landscape painting by Hendrick Avercamp 1585-1634)

Three men with hats like chimney pots
(One with an emerald feather light as a plume of smoke)
Stare at the ice where a golf ball rests in its shadow

All three wear ruffs like surgical neck braces
Stiff, white, starched hard
As washing after one night's frost

Their pantaloons are thick, their gauntlets tight
Their feet encased in buckled leather shoes

Their golf ball is the focus of attention
‘I won that round, me, Hans van Eyck
Best cheese maker in all the Netherlands.'

Two skaters gawp, their cheeks fired by the cold
While one young sledger stares
Beyond the group

‘Poor Hendrick Avercamp' the skaters said
‘Deaf mute and a recluse. His father
Was a pharmacist, you know
Hendrick was trained in Amsterdam
By Pieter Isaacs, one of Holland's best

Such a gift! How sad he'll never hear
The swallows in the spring
Or sing for joy, like Jan the baker's boy.'

Yet he immortalised this frozen waterway
This cameo of Dutch society
Long after Jan the baker's son was toast


Sea-Gift

The first box struck the shore
Whisky! It sat in the foam and spray
A Hebridean rhapsody from Fortune
From sea's lamentable brine,
A given luxury.

Meanwhile, Neptune stretched out on a reef
Scratching his scaly thigh.
‘They are due a smidgeon of pleasure,
What with the rain that never ceases
Pounding their chilly acres.'

Crofters came hurtling through the tide
Wizened or young, with the great thirst on them

Even the scrunts of bushes, the sodden sheep
Looked up from their pious immersion in the hum-drum
Saying, ‘ochone, there will come a day of reckoning
Mark well, there is no pleasure without pain
Tè mhòr le beagan uisge
A large measure of whisky with a little water
There will be the Devil to pay e'r this day's done.'

Submitted: Sunday, February 10, 2013


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