Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 32: Lewis

Back Home in Lewis

(for Finlay and Norma)

Preyed over by eagles, balletic osprey, and a shrouded sun,
no-one could own such a land but figures of stone.
Yet some with their gentle speech dwell in this strewn place
and after centuries living on the edge they fish in Brussels
with all the guile and grasp of an otter-board.

Within the settlements Elvis look-alikes
swank on motor-bikes with pulling power,
their side-burns wearing well into middle-age:
the King is half-alive and living in Bayble.

On a long and lonely road
an old man drags his cow in the teeth of a gale,
grinning a greeting from a dentist’s nightmare.
Seeking more danger than the sheep can offer
his dog attacks the wheels of passing cars.
Motor bodies bleed into the moor
and the shearing snows upon a summer field.

Here, where rosaries are rare, Sundays divide the people,
while the minister waits, like black ice,
for their slide into forgiveness and remorse.

And the wind that broke the trees into submission,
the wind that beat you when you were a child,
the wind you ran away from,
calls like a keening mother,
come back come back come back…

Gerard Rochford

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