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16 Aug 2023



New Moon


Aug 31st

To an Over Hailes
poet of 2123

Aug 1st

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, 

                                       powder-soft underfoot, 

                                                   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.

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