Poem: 'A Walk to the Cuckoo Stone'. Runner up in the Deirdre Roberts Poetry Competition 2022

A Walk to ‘The Cuckoo Stone’ with John MacFarlane


After tea, and stories of twelve tiny north-facing pebbles,

we follow you to one of the immemorial cattle crossings 

of Allt a’chomhlachaidh - ‘stream of talking together’. 

You turn to us in October sun, shelling memories 

of ice-music this burn makes in winter, 

of the horse mushrooms that thrive by your hawthorn,

this one, its roots lifting like bones under thinning skin, 

like the seams of quartz that course through The Cuckoo Stone:

hand-on-rock you say this was where folk came to sort their differences, 

we see this is now where hawks come to leave rabbits’ feet. 

You talk of feuds unresolved, battles fought over there on the daileag

raise your walking pole to Tom a’ Phiobaire, - ‘the piper’s knoll,

a Highlander can pick out the sound of pipes anywhere'.

We keep quiet with feint hope, your Dunlops squelch in the quivering bog.