Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 13: Clydebank

Singer Factory

When four faces of the giant Singer clock,
with minute hands the size of two tall men,
crowned Kilbowie Hill
and women reeked of machine oil,
the factory warmed the Forth and Clyde canal
so steam rose from the water.

The story goes that a pet shop owner
poured his fancies into the Nollie.
Purple shubunkins, gold ranchus,
lavender telescope eyes,
red caporandas, orange lionheads
thrived in the warm waterway.

Boys, bored with squiggles of silver minnows,
came with nets and jam jars.
One caught a two pound goldfish
behind Garscadden police station
and kept it in the bath for weeks
until the family needed a wash.

Busloads came for a day out
to feed the fish on mouldy bread.
Rag-and-bone men hitched their horses
to the railings and left
with wee goldies in plastic bags
to trade for old clothes and threadbare linen.

When Singer closed, the canal froze.
Bankies scattered like a shoal of perch
escaping from a supermarket trolley.
Beyond landscaping and swans,
the flash of red Clydeside persists.
They are still here, swimming under the ice.


Eveline Pye

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