Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no. 161: Loch Eriboll


Scotland’s far northwest:
Lapworth, a figure on the skyline,
or lost against a craggy hillside.
He strode across immensities of time,
grappled with a devious landscape,
interrogated rocks.

All around – evidence of violence:
thrusts, fractures, shears and faults;
gargoyle contortions on cliff faces,
rocks twisted, altered, in a cover-up.
No resting places then or now:
on a quiet day he’d hear the clinks
as quartzite moved on Arkle’s screes;
in storms, wind chafing the buttresses
above Loch Eriboll.

Nightfall, back in his hotel:
glass-cased trout, mounted heads of stags,
ambiguous, ghostly in the semi-dark.
Under oil lamps he analysed, hypothesised,
composed his maps.

He clashed with the establishment,
proposed a mighty engine of the earth
thrusting Moine mountains miles westward,
pushing older rocks above the younger, usurping
the accepted order.

For a time his mind was overturned,
its topography in disarray.
Earth tremors, night terrors.
The Moine Thrust, implacable and dark,
crushed its way towards his house.
He felt his flesh compress, heard
his notebooks scream and tear.
His maps were scattered,
crumpled on the floor.


Michael Davenport

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