16 Aug 2023
To an Over Hailes
poet of 2123
After George Mackay Brown’s
To a Hamnavoe poet in 2093
Words humming in our heads –
mine scribbled in notebooks,
tapped into my phone,
typed up and sent, fat packets of data
battling for bandwidth
along the copper wire.
And you? I’m sorry, the forecast
is not good. I fear the sea
may be lapping at East Linton.
We have vast fields down to Hailes Castle,
swathed with wheat, barley
cabbages, leeks. Do you watch
rooks and gulls, swirling, circling
in a cultivator’s wake?
Does anyone sit in the tractor cab?
The river, swollen with snow melt,
flooded the path again this year,
shrugged off its old shape,
the gentle pebbled slope churned to sand,
a whole new waterline.
Behind the poem...
Written in the centenary year of Orcadian poet George Mackay Brown, my poem is a response to his To a Hamnavoe poet in 2093 – one of his later works, published in his final collection, Following A Lark: Poems. Like Mackay Brown, I’m writing to an imagined poet a hundred years in the future: picking up on solastalgic themes, and rooting my poem in East Lothian’s agricultural landscape, where I spent a lot of time during COVID-19 restrictions.