Tay Reflections: A Flying Boat Renga
Rain mizzling, a St Ayles skiff
cuts jabbly water,
trailing pink and blue upriver.
Flying forwards, gliding
to pass old ribs that held The Diver.
Oars dig deep, catch and pull,
plough through roiling eddies.
Eyes climb in awe
to aged iron girders,
cathedral spans over water.
Slipping past the bay's soft curves,
a silken-headed seal surfaces ―
rhythm companion across the void.
A watery sun peeps through clouds,
glints on the sandbank furrows.
Surging westwards to Jock's Hole,
Old Kilburn wreck in view,
Fife's green hills behind.
Flisk Point lures the hungry ashore,
Bodies rest amongst the pebbles.
Tide on the turn, return leg beckons;
spray somersaulting on shifting winds,
bow rides high, surfing a lathering tideline.
Oars slap water, plash,
train toots a greeting from above.
Homewards bound, under the bridge
water swirlin and birlin;
smirry rain on warm faces.
Powered by light, each image traces
a line leaving something of itself behind.
Sarah Leenhouts (linocut artist)
Note: During lockdown, some of the women in the Catalina rowing club, based in Wormit, wrote a collaborative poem modelled on a renga. It's about rowing upriver on the Tay in a skiff called "Flying Boat". The renga form was inspired by Bill Herbert's Dundee lockdown rengas, and it enabled all of us to keep in touch with each other.
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