Northwords Now Issue 37

The FREE literary magazine of the North


by Seth Crook

(Coll McLean was the ferryman from Mull to Iona for 52 years)

I’m local, yes.
Not native,
not descending from Somerled,
not marching with the pipe band at Hogmanay:

but I can tell you the name of a beach
not used on any map.
I can tell you where
the rusty farming machines rot,

almost every one.
Blessed are the hay rakes,
blessed are the potato spinners,
blessed are the hiding places

of the Spring-declaring adders.
I know where you can cross the bog.
I know the quick way back from the pub.
I know where the old tin school was.

And where the old tin roof still is.
I didn’t cross to Iona
on the row boat of Coll McLean.
But I can tell you there was a Coll McLean.

I can tell you
where the hen harrier nests,
though I won’t tell you
where the hen harrier nests.