Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 15: Stromness

Warbeth Walk

The air is thick
and quickens your breath
foam rushes like blood.

What’s death?
Tombstones, planted bookmarks.

Salt rubs the wounds
of letters.

Your feet push back the earth
legs spring like flight.

Oystercatchers pose on granite
blue light washes the fields.

So live for the fear of drowning in seascape
the end of words –
the black-and-white forking of tongues.

To speak like the raven
or sing like the curlew
feasting on what the shore offers.

To plunder deep into liminal space
for fish-meat and sustenance.

What’s grace?
A lapwing song in a dark field

An empty stomach
filled with the smell of seaweed
and cattle

The curve in the road
where you listen for starlings…

You climb the last hill
walking backwards
to face the sea.

Then the wind whips you round
to the orange-glow windows of home.

Nalini Paul

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