Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no. 129: Catterline

Bag Nets at Catterline
After Salmon Net Posts, J Eardley

Like a playground bully he hauls up his prize,
holds the salmon in his hands as he’d hold
a stolen note, some intimate treasure snatched
at the point of stillness, pre-dawn, say, or at dusk.
He dries his nets on six black poles just beyond her reach,
the grassy verge above the high water mark;
and though the catch is long emptied, her waves
are still foaming, clutching at sand, grasping for her own.

One boat a year is swallowed by her waters,
and a fisherman too – it’s true that fishermen can’t swim –
but there’s no crest to her wave, no great storm
or high tide. Her sands erode in the metronome’s equal
and constant measure, and the catches just run poor.

After a while he stays home, not shouting at his wife
but at himself, mornings, into the wind. His damp nets
rot in the back of his father’s sheds, dripping with disuse.
Evenings, he stares at his glass of golden seawater, seeing
the flash of scales, or the flickered lightening of a receding squall.
And every year she edges closer to that patch of grass,
to the monument she’s given herself: those six black poles
standing guard like a widow’s walk, watching the horizon.

Marjorie Lotfi Gill
Previously published in Miscellaneous: Writing Inspired by the Hunterian

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