Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 100: Ruberslaw

Border Country (Palm Sunday)

Rising up to Ruberslaw,
Gazing down to small towns and farms,
A hawk-eyed view of history
Kaleidoscopes to the millennium
In a banking Harrier jet.
Here treads a Roman sandal,
There a Pictish burnished shield
Glints in placid loch’s memorial mirror:
Broken feet shuffling home from Flodden,
Vengeful arrows quivering to slay the English foe.
In the cause of Charlie, Bruce, Douglas and the unknown,
Nameless and forgotten as those on war’s memory stones,
Time’s healing, unhealing antagonisms
Washed in so much blood
Rise, shift, swell and subside.
Undying in the minds of the unforgiving,
Mapped by unbending attitudes,
Contours of quiet distrust slope back to Trimontium,
Sets in glowing red dusk.
History: the sum of all we know.
And all we select, remember and forget.
Unprofound conclusions to simple imperatives.
Blurred reasonings and blunted resolutions.
This is Border Country.

Julian Colton

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