Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no. 258: Hawick

Thoughts from Drumlanrig's Tower
The changeable jewel of the sky surrounds
Our panoramic hills and brooks.
It clothes the rooves that shield our homes,
Gilds the fields and skims the woods,
Lights the cliffs and waters the downs
Of the Scottish Borders: below the calm,
We rest in the dark of the valley's palm,
The only town for miles around.
At common-riding time they hang up bunting,
Rows of blue and gold, and chant old songs.
When the horses come, a hundred strong,
They cheer them on, their faces bright with sun,
And toddlers clap their hands to see their fathers
Riding by, the neat hats of their mums
Made in colours bright as parrot-feathers.
Hawick charmed me with its smallness, how the sky
Cradles with one blue arm its curvature
Of hills, the compass to its high horizon,
Each tree a guard, each barn a watchtower,
Each flower grown by someone I know, or ought to.
The orient pearls of the clouds dissolve as
Gently as frost returns to meltwater -
Soon the leafy shoulders of the Borders,
Green on gold, will offer us a fortress,
Trembling as the stars recede to darkness.
Soon a sunlit net will fall upon us,
Hillsides bustle softly with the sound
Of the only town for miles around.
Sara Clark


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