Northwords Now

New writing, fresh from Scotland and the wider North
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by Jane Picton Smith

I should have guessed you were here,
since a jet stream of swans
barely cleared the treeline
(you counted sixteen).
This startled corps de ballet
and the intrusion of coots
signalled your presence,
by the mouth of the pow.
The clinging tangle of roots
on the cusp of riparian woods
and riverbank;
the green lustre of a kingfisher’s wing,
like the filter of a half-remembered dream.

Your chosen craft: a paddleboard,
no less at one with its surroundings,
as it forms a second skin
on the water.
Emerging from a screen of reeds
near Carthagena Bank,
by turns culled and reborn
with each indecisive tide,
you are part pre-Raphaelite muse,
part able barge woman,
framed against a wintery waterway.

In your hands
a single oar,
momentarily still.

Northwords Now acknowledges the vital support of Creative Scotland and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
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