Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 6: Stromness


A sound that rolls
like pebbles off the tongue. Stromness.
The moon here wears its clouds like a moustache
on a bleached skull, a face that’s pinched
in pique at the lone walker and three felines
who have come to bear witness to its lightshow
on flagstones, smooth and new.

The street narrows ahead, forms a horizon
of slanted stone. Van Gogh would have been proud,
here we have a black and orange road winding treacherous,
slippery into an unknown. And suddenly I am
my feet, they are a metronome.
The old sky-relic tugs at my knees
like I am a marionette. There is no room for error
in this place, the scowling sky will not allow for it.
‘Don’t you dare,’ it tells me, ‘Fall out of rhythm.
Respect the silence, child.’
And so I respect the silence. My steps fall
like the peel of stone bells.

Ingrid Leonard


Continuing our tour of Scotland in poems, we travel by sea round to Orkney, to Stromness. Ingrid Leonard wrote this poem on the St Magnus Festival Orkney Writers' Course and it was published online as part of a compilation of poets' work.

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