Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 112: Port Voller

for Calum

they straggle out of their black-houses
silently greeting the peaty air
as they untether their hopeful boats
leading them like dogs to the end of the grizzled pier

the sleep-fuddled sea rolls over and grumbles
into the thickened waist of morning
and the blue-breasted hills
breathe in the slanting sighs of heathered moors

hand-hewn oars slice through buttery water
drawing and quartering the awakening sea
with its insatiable craving for the rarefied taste
of smoked and salty Lewis men

with a careless wave and shrug of swollen shoulders
winter’s teasing tongue of storm lashes out
licking heaving decks
flicking crumbs of frozen fishermen into the greedy bay

wind-whipped dogs limp home and nudge the lamenting shore
with torn sails between their legs
without their singing masters and silver creels
they bring no solace to the widowed croft

Debbie Strange

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