Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no 285

How a hill matters
watched from a train,
looking up from a book,
coming home from London,
sitting on the right side to see
the shining shallow Clyde,
cut like peat from the grassy
moors beyond the Uplands,
before the falls, before the port.
We walked once from our house
to Tinto, along pink lanes,
up the quiet side,
the prehistoric heave of a lone hill.
I went up on my own sometimes.
Living in the woods, needing
barren mass, an effort of height.
With you, eating cheese
and Marmite sandwiches at the top,
backs to the wind, settling
our bottoms on clunking stones,
imagining Ireland, Lochnagar.
It’s Scotland’s largest cairn,
as old as smelting. I wish I’d known
we were supposed to carry a rock
to the top each time. Instead
of bringing, I took a Tinto stone.
It lies here now on my sill in Canada,
where I live in the woods again.
One day I’ll return it to its cairn,
put Scotland back where it belongs.
Joanna Lilley

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