Sanstane an Steel
Author(s): Andrew McNeil
Copyright holder(s): Andrew McNeil
Continents tae explore,
Glacial smooth sand invitin ye,
Ye're wary as ye leave land faur ahint,
Creels noo exposed, transportit,
Haudin fast the captured sea cod
Or e'en young conger.
I clamber ower haill couters o taangle,
Mindin the vices on fingers fae partans,
Aye feart the planet wull revert,
Disappear unner water.
I touch surfaces, een reflectit
Reaching ayont masel
The iron cleek howkin oot debris.
Aye destruction when the twa-leggit
Siller hips lik western holsters
Thon auld prams wid wheel
The aboot-tae-be mairrit.
Paradit roun Ainster
Maukit in chocolate an treacle
Passin the whale jaw banes
Elemental rites fae the Atlantic.
Whaur afore faimlies hid
Ain patterns on fishin jumpers
Makkit tae defeat winds
Threatin tae empty Fifies o mankind
Noo ither rituals.
Through it aw
A ticht drawn chalk fist
On the horizon -
Cumin intae view
As they pass ower the Dreel
The burn suppin lazily roun Steppin Stanes
Jinin the incumin sea.
Every twa year cum hame:
As lang as she cuin dae this
They'll be happy in the States.
Pop ower fae America
Whar awthin is bigger
Aye! Standart o life is better.
Staunin thair it blinds me
What kin o life?
She'll no see the young growe
Deid - claes in her min will cover
The thoosand weys they an aw us
Personal, local an national daeins soak us
Mony ettlin fer better days aheid
Yon red squirrel I seen speed across the Muchty road,
A nip o fragile broon beauty framed
Bi the Lomonds - twin baps in ever changin licht
They ur lost tae her.
The faimly walk doun the High Street
Ignorin the exhibition poster
Fae Agricola tae Chatelard unner Queen Mary's bed
Sex an deith hae starrin roles in braw waa panels.
Danderin on fitsteps echo
Unseen up a close, souns like spirits tappin
No shair o the wey.
"Ye telt us fower o'clock."
"The bus would arrive at three thirty at the latest."
"I ken but the letter said somethin aboot fower..."
"We've had them back for twenty minutes."
Granfaither an teacher:
The ane, finger still rock-calloused.
Lang since idle fae wark in a Fife mine;
Th'ither, fantoosh as his Apple Mac
Whaur yon note fer thair trip wis ran aff,
Reflections o cooncil hooses
Temporary fer near fifty year noo
No seen throu his windae.
The hill ahint the schule luiks like the Bastille -
Barefit ledges oot fae gorse-skirts -
An open-moothed winter stare.
He leaves thankin the heidmaister,
Five bairns o various heichts skirl aroon
Cries held fer a second
In the late November air.
Parasols next tae a nicely bricked
Vomitarium jist alang fae Asda:
Some o the sichts on the road tae work.
Noo an again on the same road
I pass it - cyberspace graphic fish
Fleein past ma car.
A new look fer the Pittenweem fish van.
I can mind the fish barra,
Its minder tall an sharp-jawed,
Bonnet placed on his heid,
Pushed alang oor road
Painted green yon ancient green:
Jist like ma Gran's back door,
The ane I wid hing on
Raspin, dyin breaths,
Ma mooth half-imitatin.
Restin ma palms on her window-sill.
The blue his a spirit o its ain
Lappin aff the white cliffs
Seen fae Ainster lik cloods.
Awthin is paced oot fer human feet
Frae larach tae cliff tae the beach;
Fowk sharin the island wi rock an gull.
Gien sum maumie winds
A sun makin gannets hyter on ledges
Thon group maun be takin a hairst
A hairst sae deep rootit in the first element.
Yon chiels ur the diggers fer banes
No the monks an invaders o yestereen.
They mibbe dinna ken the saut
The yammerin fae shore an sky steys
Steys, steys an rests:
Eneuch tae defeat granite
Seep throu steel.
The 1976 heatwave
A glorious summer.
Lyin on liquorice
Five o uz bathe in a gowden
Licht - the sea
Licks sanstane doun
Yonder at the Gyles.
Dissolve amang the haze.
Back an re-baptised
We mak wattery second sels.
Dinna ken whaur this itch comes fae -
Sae sair sometimes I cuid mak
A conger eel weep.
Shivereens of infancy.
Micht be 1967.
There I am a wee nyaff,
Wi a Yankee accent.
Like ma whelkin days,
Heave some muckle rocks deep.
(I'm nae Scots Pegasus enabler.)
I hae tae splash aroon.
Sae whit aboot this itch?
Lookin deep intae the pool
I see twa selves,
Ane at ease on shores
Deep in massacred kelp an tangle,
The ither far awa, beyond
The May Island,
Whaur noo they dig fer the past,
Satisfyin oor itch in the present.
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Sanstane an Steel. 2022. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved August 2022, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=755.
"Sanstane an Steel." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2022. Web. August 2022. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=755.
The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Sanstane an Steel," accessed August 2022, http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=755.
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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2022. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk.