Northwords Now

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Young Mortality

by Helen Boden

i. Monumental Mason, Uist

In every graveyard on the seaboard
He stoops through the summer
Repairs what winter's undone
Figures into stones beyond
Preservative peat, on shores
Eases back the sands
Engraving, saving
The recovered from sea
From perpetual deluge
From further erasure.

ii. Kirkibost

“I’m just enjoying the humidity”, said the Bernera fisherman sitting with his glass outside his house, who inevitably knew a Sutherland fisherman I once knew, and told me tales of the lightning across Loch Roag last night; of their purchase many years ago of a motor vehicle from Badnabay, and the subsequent ascertaining and implementing the most direct route to a licensed premises, amphibian across the shallows of the head of Loch Laxford. So characteristic, I thought, and I recalled a shared dram in the Sound of Handa. It hadn’t occurred to me that humidity was something to be enjoyed, though our mutual friend Alasdair, who had similarly relished his own front-door view, towards Stoer, might also have said this when he was still alive on the other side of the Minch.

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