Northwords Now Issue 35

The FREE literary magazine of the North

Rowan

by John Young

Full fifty years since she moved off the croft
she’s back again, with me in tow,
to oystercatchers wheeping by the lochan
and skies as wide as your imagination.

Strange territory for me, an urban dweller
Brought up where streetlights were our stars
And dockland hooters wailed out
The divisions of the day – and Hollywood
Via Saturday morning movies
Gave us an off-the-shelf mythology.

That rowan standing sentinel by the gate, I say,
it blocks the view, I’d better cut it down.
You can’t do that, she answers,
my father planted it when first he came here
to welcome strangers and ward off evil spirits.

I’m not sure what to do; I’ve often upset her
with my uncouth townie ways,
but leaving that aside, why should I take on board
the superstitions of a long gone age?
A rational atheist, I - or so I’d like to think,
blood red berries and pentagrams
hold no mystique for me;
and yet an awkward need for reverence gnaws insistently.

       My mind’s made up,
I’ll not take metal to the rowan’s flesh.