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(For Naomi Farquhar)

They come here in the Voar
to go to Iceland
white & loud & tired
& all about the lochside
they had flown from the North of Africa
to rest on Loch Calder

I stopped counting after maybe twenty
each one was more fantastic than the last
they honked for hours & I sat 
& watched them come & go
then after listening with my eyes closed 
I opened them
the loch was like the Cassiemire under snow

& yet this peedie creature came towards me
all gentle & wild & complete in herself
she stared at me for at least half a minute
just to see what side of life I was on
then rose up in the air like a miracle
she flew above me & around the loch
then off into the blue North
& was gone

Naomi, much lately have I seen death
but what I tell you is about life
a swan on Loch Calder
made it all clear
she was my love
she was my wife
away in an instant
away to the Arctic
& I still here

at some point in the future
when I am black
& she is still white
I will follow her to Iceland
into the cold & salty night

A Swan on Loch Calder

George Gunn

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Tha foghar Dhùn Èideann
a’ fàgail na cuimhne
gun phuinnsean:
na dhonn-bhlàths
na odhar-shràidibh
na ruadh-fhàilte
na òr-bhuidhe chàirdeas
agus anns an luaidh lachdainn
a nì a gheamhradh air an-dràsta,
cha dèan e dearmad air
meud na duillich,
cha chàin e mealltachd
gach maidne as àille,
cha chaoidh e òige chaillte
na chomh-thràth tràighte.
Saoraidh e a sholas dìblidh
bho chiont na Dùbhlachd
is caisgidh e a mheallan dubha
bho ùth am màthar bàsail.

Edinburgh’s Autumn 
(translation of the above)

Edinburgh’s autumn
leaves the memory
without poison:
in her brown warmth
her dun streets
her russet welcome
her golden companionship

and in the swarthy homage
which her winter now pays her,
it won’t neglect
the mass of foliage,
it will not decry the beguilement
of each more beautiful morning,
it will not rue lost youth
in her sapped twilight.

It will absolve feeble light
from the guilt of December
and wean the black showers
from the udder of their deathly mother

Foghar Dhùn Èideann

Martin McIntyre / Màrtainn Mac an t-Saoir

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I’ve a hankerin. 

A recht hankerin 

for french toast, 

the wye you makk it.

Mines aye turns oot spongy, 

owerdeen, nae sae guid

nae metter ma method -

usin butter or olive oil, 

time soakin the breid, 

experimintin wae pans

an livvels o heat, 

bit nivver recreatin yours.

Aa shut ma een, aa smell it,

aa the chef’s kissies, crisp edges, jist perfect. 

Picter ma mou openin tae ate it, slaverin,

watchin you, watchin me, 

waitin for ma question 

‘Babe, how dae ye mak it sae fine?’

Yer best Elvis replies, 

‘Made wae a spoonfulla lurve Momma’ 

ye wink

oot o existence.

As aa open ma een, ma hert catches up.

I’ve a hankerin, 

a recht hankerin,

for you.


Jo Gilbert

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I don’t know why we called you Sweet Pea probably because having you was sweet and you were about the size of a pea.

You were about the size of a pea
when we joked about calling you Rocky
and marvelled at my growing breasts and belly.

How can it all swell so much when you are only the size of a pea? I think I maybe wore my maternity clothes too soon.

You were about the size of a pea
when we made announcements to expectant grandparents and laughed as they said, ‘about time’.

When you grew to the size of an apple
she said that she needed a second opinion,
I don’t think that she needed the second opinion

cold jelly on swelling belly, I was exposed. We could see it, though. One heart,
not two. Mine, not yours.

In springtime I planted sweet peas in the garden but I could never find you there

Sweet Pea

Julie McNeill

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