Northwords Now Issue 35

The FREE literary magazine of the North

Da Shipwrecked Forester

for Donald S Murray

by James Sinclair

1.

Weel yun’s yun, dat’s him planted.
He has nae fock o his ain buried here.
William Macdonald wis his name at birth.
But if du akses onyeen fae aroond here
wi kent him as Willie Wid ur Gaelic Willie.
He washed up here monies da year fae syne.
A forester fae sum big estate doon da wast coast.
Yun simple widden cross wis his idea.
A lok o years ago wi wir oot walkin da banks
whin wi cam across a tree stump i da back o a geo.
Fur aa his kennin o wid he’d niver seen dis afore.
He laekit ta tink dat hit micht a floated
doon wan o da tributaries o da michty Amazon
ur waashed oot ta sea fae da Congo in rainy saeson.

2.                            
Da boy dat laekit trees. Sum fock
even said he could spaek wi dem.
He kent whit eens dug dir röts in deep,
whedder dey need a lang draa o waater
an whit wans grippit ta rocky hillsides
wi muckle haands an strong fingers. He wid
ken by da smell o da saap an colour o da bark
whiteens wir mad livin ur if dey wir filt wi rot.
An dan dis man, his loard an maister
aksed him ta traivil oot ower lang ocean,
bring him da best cuttings an finest saplins
o aa yun unken trees dey said grew dere. Dir wis
wird dat da graetest tree o dem aa grew dere,
an his vanity demanded da muckle redwid.

3.                            
Fur sic a fine day at da back o da hairst
Dey sailed doon da wide an smooth river Clyde.
Oot inta da muckle Atlantic swell dey med
fur da pilgrim faiders an da shalter o Boston Harbour
Da howld filt ta da brim wi oaken casks bound in iron
Willie stood apon da larch deckin in his warm cot
an wi da first haevins o da sea spewed his mugie.
His senses no able ta maister da motion an emptiness.
Da wind, he cam up fae da Sooth Wast, fur sic
a roar hit med drivin dem afore brakin spinrift.
Da hiecht masts bent laek stalks o corn, wind
rivin da sails ta shreds, dem blawin aff, laeves i da storm.
Fairt, Willie lashed hisel wi ropp ta da mast. Dan in
ee muckle flan hit uprooted an snappit inta matchwid.

4.                            
A sodden lump wuppit up in tang.
Da men oot lookin ower dir sheep
cam apon da krangs, no uncommon dan a days.
Tinkin da worst dey rolled him apo his back,
his een blinkit open an he mumbled unken wirds.
Dey kerried him ta hoose whaur an owld wife bed herlane.
Shu gaused dem  lift him itill da box bed.
Dan shu climbed in ahint an baled da blankets ower.
haddin him close ta her fur a day an a nicht
Liza held him in her boasie, shu’d niver hed a bairn o her ain
an little by little he cam at. Shu gaused him
sip blaand den some brö, a bowl o soup an bannocks
dan a plate foo o saat fish an taaties. An afore
lang he wis able ta set him afore da fire.

5.                            
Willie cam at, he kuckered up,
but da pooer geed fae his leegs
whin he steppit outside da door
an saw as far as his ee could see
dir wis nothin, nedder bush nor tree.
His line o sicht med nae idder
as twartree bare hills wi mooskit waves
streetchin ta far horizon an da lift
dat reached richt ta da heavens.
Owld Arthur took him wi him ee day
ta cast der bank. Dey flaaed aff da turf
dan cut, liftin da blue clods ower der shooders.
Willie pickit up a paet an spotted an ancient
tree röt, an wi dat sat him doon i da greff an grett.

6.                            
Davy Smith’s boatyaard i da toon,
dey wir short-haanded, wi a full orderbook.
Willie cam ta wirk fur dem i da spring
an afore lang dey could aa see dat
dis een wis a haandy extra pair o hands.
Fur he could aesy tell wi wan rub o da grain
an da very smell o da saap whedder
da wid wis any use avaa. An he could tell
whit wey ta cut hit ta keep strengt an suppleness.
Hit wis herd wark but he laekit hit. He swapit his
exe fur saw an chisel an da smell o fresh sawn timber
med his heart feel gled an as he wroucht
wi da tools o his new trade he fan a
fresh wey ta appreciate da glory o trees.

7.                            
He watched her takin da simmer air on da Sabbath,
her bible tuckit innanunder her okster,
strampin alang itill her best Sunday finery.
Her skein da colour o mylk an blue een
dat sparkled brichter dan ony gem stones an vari-orm.
He wis smitten, riggin hisel up as best he could
Willie med fur da kirk, staandin i da pew ahint.
Gadderin da courage up fae some idder wyes,
He aksed if he could walk her hame.
An as da knots in his stamach lowsened, hit
lowsened his tongue an dey yarned aboot
dis, dat an da nixt thing. Dey fan hit
aesy ta spaek ta een annider, laek dey’d
kent wan annider aa dir days.

8.                            
Willie an Margaret held a spring weddin
an settled in twartree rooms i da lanes.
Hit gied him an her a sense o comfort
closed in wi buildins, itill a forest
o saandstone an granite wi laeves o slate.
Da wind swieed aroond da concrete trunks
stone waas lookit ta sway afore da gale.
Trowe closs an coortyaard an nuek an crannie
shadows shortened as da flicker o da sun blinkit trowe.
A life lived oot abune da come an go o ships,
da rise an faa o da tide, as owld Jamaica
clamb oot o da back o Bressa an fell ahint da Hillhied.
If he felt da caa o hame, nair a wird wis braethed.