Northwords Now Issue 37

The FREE literary magazine of the North

Peterhead in Winter

Inspired by Burns Singer

by Alistair Lawrie

“Imagine elephants here.
They’d settle, clumsily sure
Of themselves”

Nae doot the drifters dunced aroon
that May, my granda’s boat a shape
among the shiftin clinkin forms
that linkit at it, heelin bows
neist starns that joukit in a reel
o ropes like haudin hands. Their dark
against the deeper oily black
o water treadin wi the lichts.
An files the lichthoos like as nae
wid cast its sober watchfu ee
owre aa they did like elders micht
tae mak clean sure nae drink was teen
nor ony orra silken queans
had breeched the toun’s clear sense
o fit was richt for folk tae dae,
in public onywye. That mist
still haps it peaceful like at times
but loomin through its mirror glare
are thae imagined elephants.
Great clumsy brutes, they squat ootowre
the harbour maistly in the bay
in hungry smug self certainty.
They purse their lips like settled nets,
significant o somethin come
that’s emptied nae just seas o fish
but herts o hope. I mind ae time
my granda’s twa gweed brithers
baith pokin fun at his aal drifter,
him speirin fit their sons wid dee.