Poetry: Heavy Weather/The Whirler Stone

Published in Northwords Now, Autumn 2020


Heavy Weather


There’s a poem agitating on the B road to Abriachan.

I keep going back to where I was pulled up by a roe buck 

colour of rust, and the dead hare where I let the car rest. 


I left the tunes on, danced on tarmac to Frazy Ford in close horse-breath air,

there in the middle of a moor of bog myrtle and pine, heather in bloom, 

birch on shine, asphodel horizons of dirty gold.


Juniper bushes canted away from me in a conspiracy.

I picked the single black berry from an unready of green, 

held it electric between forefinger and thumb        stopped dancing.


The hare’s hips were snapped and haunches laid flat,

blood pooling to puce. Her ears rimmed in moon-sharp memory.

Front legs lifted, ready to run across the hopelessness of heather.     


I pressed my thumb-nail hard into the juniper berry, 

breathed back to that day in May, 

in the Birkwoods of Braemar, when you invited me to sit with you, 


rest the horses.

I’d ridden on without a word 

through in-between worlds of juniper and wood anenome.  


At my feet, on the B road To Abriachan, whiskers move

- still looking for meaning in the whickering wind. 

Tears lifting for you and me, for that crushed moment. 


For this hare in two halves.


The Whirler Stone


The photo grabbed me, gutted me -

in those known hands a rose-orange stone

weight of cabbage, shape of planet 

owl’s energy field, perfect spacer for self


marvel of river-spent love


gone with the woman

who with stone-bent desire

moved the man to lift what had sat

on his garden fence for years 

and pass it over, (I’d seen this and turned away).


Now her photo - the stone, in his hands -

on my phone, and I can’t sleep


I’d wanted the stone, not to take away

not for me to own, just to be there

almost unchanging, always on the fence.

I’d wanted to see how it settled into the wood

a little more intimately each year.

I’d wanted it to be there all for itself

for the place too, for the man and the raggedy roses  


but mostly for me, to be steadfastly there, for me.


The heft of it’s absence presses my kidneys

while he, giver, lets things pass through - 

rivers and unwritten words     

stones found, held, handed on

not his to keep nor his to give away

a stone pausing in hands that grasp at nothing,

that open for passers through like salmon alevin, baby frogs

‘a half and a pony’, a shed-load of dreams.


His is a different hold to mine

I want it, the way it allows to time,

loosens feldspar crystals,

unfolds to possibilities.