Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no. 140: Rothesay

Rothesay, Isle of Bute, 1975

Honeymooning. And we’re cycling around the island,
young and in love. High summer, and the flowers
all out giddy in the brief sun. They know a South American
is in town! We’d sailed from Dunoon, me skinny
in my white trouser suit and I’m breathing in the new air,

Part of me is searching for a face in the crowd,
a great-grandfather who left, l890 or so,
sailed across an ocean; his son would marry
a Madeira woman, who would produce my mother
and here I am a Guyana child.

Names are a big thing when you leave.
Guyana has its share of Scottish names,
Plantation Alness where he over-seered.
My father now, a black man on a plantation, his name: Harris.

And I wonder why I didn’t go to Harris, perhaps
my marriage would have lasted. But then again
I wouldn’t have seen the Isle of Bute
and ate ice-cream at Zavaroni’s or be the me that I am today.
Rothesay, on my return I’ll walk you slowly, get to know your name.

Maggie Harris

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