Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 72: Speymouth

Speymouth Dawn

Between the star glazed opacity of night
And the dazzling drift of a deep blue day
The sea and sun embrace
In lovers' fluent languor
In not long now this seed will burst
On tendrils of gold
To flower to day
At the mouths of the River Spey
Change-full choirs chant
Surf on shingle sliding
Interval shifts minutely gliding
From harmony to dissonance
Somewhere in the key of D (?)
The whole symphonic bay
In constantly impermanent refrain
When the tide comes in like that
Persuaded by a Moray Firth dawn
A fisher's daughter
As aquiline, as fine, as osprey
Risen from her sleep of eagles
Pausing at the kale yard wall,
Sings out her strong and clear sustain
To an ocean of whale-song
And the triples and trills of terns
See:
A small pod of dolphins
Working in unison
Six slick dorsals
Rising and falling
In a closing loop
Herding the red fish
To a cradling shallow
Where the surface breaks
Then, mercurial, boils
With a panic
Of salmon
Leaping to nothing -
No breaking loose
From the leisurely beaks
Of the bottle-nosed noose
In the rivers rush
On a sand bar oasis
A seal pup waits
With the stillness of youth
For the silver flashing
And saline fruit
Of a returning mother's
Own salmon pursuit
On a west bank litter of sand and stone:
Slow worm and adder bask in the sun
Dragon flies dance their right angled turns
Broom thickets' fly speckled haunting yellows
And out in the bay a bull seal bellows.

John Mackie

Part of this poem is carved into a sculpture in The Harbour Garden at The Scottish Dolphin Centre in Spey Bay

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