Catherine Wilson

Catherine Wilson is a spoken word poet and writer. She is a trustee for YWCA Scotland and regularly works as a reviewer for BBC Radio Scotland. Her work has been commissioned by the British National Gallery, TEDx, and Front Row at the Edinburgh International Book Festival for BBC Radio 4. She has represented Scotland at an international level including at the EUNIC’s Transpoesie Festival in Belgium and at the CUPSI Slam in America. In 2018 she was selected as one of Scotland’s most inspirational women under 30 by YWCA Scotland and in 2020 her poem won the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival Writing Competition.

Catherine Wilson

Photo: Perry Jonsson


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If you looked too closely
the world went static

most mornings a rerun
so overdone when I shut my eyes

I saw the tape wound back.
A mid-March hush descended

on the street, crept its fingers
across the window panes until

I felt blanketed in impossibility.

The only signs of life could be gathered
through an errant crisp packet caught
by the wind or aggressive curtain-twitching

so I went looking for joy. Threw out my chest
and flung myself headfirst
into the possibility of bliss.

I didn’t know what it would look like
when forced to be private behind guidelines

but there is a certain joy in silence-

suddenly erupted by wildlife
as loud as trumpets, seagulls so ready
for sunrise they scream it into being.

Because when the world feels stuck, you know nature
keeps growing, proving we never stand
still. Give her time and space
and she will show you
the definition of progress

and it isn’t repaved, or remodelled,
or seeking funding on Kickstarter.

From window boxes to militant butterflies
that expertly push against the breeze
nature interrupts us constantly.

Grows through the concrete
as the deep seated smell of rain
on pavement drifts in with the droplets
that drum on the roof above us.

Do you think birds know
how much we love them? That may sound
like a stupid question, because it probably is.

But we’ve pinned enough hopes
onto feathers to populate an apiary
of great kiskadees and seagulls alike
standing feather to feather
soaring above us all in unchosen ignorance
of the way we turn their territorial cries
into a symbol of persistence
that we can still regrow, rebuild, rewild
from figs to fish, there is a whole world
beyond this pause.

There are roots beneath the ground
connections hundreds of years old
and this is not some doomsday proclamation
stating nature “does not care”
and “will be here long after us”

it is to say there is some joy in not being
the centre of the universe, but living
alongside it. It certainly takes
the pressure off us.

If you sleep in or miss
a deadline, the whales keep swimming
and isn’t that reason enough to live?

I am grateful. For a world
beyond my doorstep. For my window
offering a front row seat for the steady
peace of an early morning quiet street

punctuated by bees bumping into the glass
with greetings before heading off

with pollen heavy trousers
to wherever they are needed.

I have seen the creativity of humans reshuffling
the poor hand they were given and winning

we put art on our windows, our streets, our homes
any canvas we could find, we left behind signs
of life and love for others to discover
like an ongoing conversation
a scavenger hunt as wide as the roads

as far as we could walk.

We found our family was as big as our bandwidth
whether it be the ones we chose
or those we were born with

we proved our kitchen tables could be anything
a humble piece of flat wood sanded down to
host the greatest exploits of our imagination:
we found ways to keep making, keep sharing,
keep talking. We spent hours learning
the intricacies of webcams just to show
someone how much we care

you can’t hold hands through the internet, but we
found togetherness wasn’t always limited
by location. It can be found in the bottom
of a warm mug, at the end of a phone,
free for forty minutes.

Some of us took the time, went walking
around streets we’d never looked twice at,
took notice. Became expert geographers
of our cul-de-sacs or learned the city
beyond our corner.

Some of us couldn’t leave where we laid our heads
but kept living and breathing and baking
an abundance of sourdoughs and banana breads.
Dove deep into the books we loved as kids
corried in and re-read folklore

and felt lucky to see the sun hit the carpet.

It felt like we were nesting, our sofa
could be our new soulmate. One that always
gives back and fits to our needs.

We surprised ourselves
with the discovery that there is a joy
in repetition. The same stitches
a thousand times makes the strongest jumper
the same joke told again, can still be funny
(at least to me)

and the same days over and over
is still a life worth laughing with.
Waking up next to the same face
 everyday is a blessing

in hopeless times, we built
a joy unlike any other
and we found it at home.

Catherine Wilson