Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no. 238: Brora

Sky Above the Back Shore, Brora

Stunned by the unexpected northern August heat
we lay on dunes like heaps of stranded laundry.
My mother, swaddled by her children, and by theirs,
still pierced by the steel blade of my father’s passing,
stared without desire at the blank horizon.

Conversation dimmed: flat on our backs
we cast our eyes up to fair weather cumulus.
A radio played ‘Something in the Air’,
I tried to conjure up a future past this place, this time,
but drifted back, defeated by the sun, into an absence.

All of us were locked so tight inside that absence,
made more surreal and bitter by the summer radiance.
The North Sea glinted, fulmars wheeled,
beside the waterfall we listened to small finches sing,
but a door had slammed, its echo fading down an empty hall.

Ian McDonough

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