Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 14: Pabbay, Sound of Harris

After the Shearing, Pabbay

The last kettle of the day,
not hurried exactly
but with an eye to the tide.

Nobody is saying much.
It’s been a long haul
wrestling with Cheviots in the sun
and these are men
who let words ripen inside
before offering them up.

Looks like Aonghas Ailig
is rolling a cigarette, not easy
with the tremor in his shearing hand.
And there’s Coinneach Iain Sheonaidh,
lean and true as his own shepherd’s crook,
watching the sheep stream away
from the fank
past the ancient burial stones
of Teampull Mhoire.

Any minute now,
my father will empty his cup
with a flick of the wrist,
throw a crust to the dogs, a sign
to start moving
down to the boat.

Time to give the island back
to its sheep and its deer,
to the fretting seabirds;
time to let shadows slide back
into their own spaces.


Maggie Rabatski

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