Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no. 176: Strathmiglo


Spring has returned to your village, and with it
the swifts, their wingtips almost brushing my ears
when I get down at the bus-stop by twilight,
resuming their nests beneath the cottage eaves.

For months, the back rooms in your house grew dingier
once the sun dipped behind that dead volcano,
so we kept one another warm, our fingers
playing arpeggios as if on a piano

along each other’s ribs. At other times
I could only strike discords: days when the pain
that had lain dormant gripped you like bad dreams,
deeper inside than I had ever been.

At dawn I lie awake beside you, and watch
as, under the oval of each closed lid, your eyes
flicker in sleep like chicks about to hatch:
when their time comes to open, they’ll sing, and fly.

Henry King

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