Northwords Now

New writing, fresh from Scotland and the wider North
Sgrìobhadh ùr à Alba agus an Àird a Tuath

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Glacialis, the Blue Fulmar, flies south

by Lydia Harris

Fulmar: Monoprint by Alice V Taylor
Fulmar: Monoprint by Alice V Taylor

i
She hears dogs in the storm,
she’s come to her ledge

from Greenland,
you can hear her heart beat

through rotting flesh
through the oil slick.

She is half blue.
She fell through the east wind.

Just the touch of a feather,
a tap from her splayed feet

in the language of home,
is a shaft of light.

ii
She says, Try me with salt water,
the weather in Greenland is colder.

I say, Show me your webbed feet
let me wrap my hands round your rib cage.

She squats on the table.
Open your wings, I plead,

spread the blue of you,
fly to the sink and back

land on my head
ruffle your beak through my hair,

lower your wings either side of my head,
let me hear your breath.

iii
She roosts on the altar of the Ladykirk,
at watch, she ices each stone with her stare,
at dream, she sees the light of snow.
 
She receives the first inkling of spring,
her wings slide into cloud,
her flight path is a willow in the west wind.

iv
Between breast and wing
her grey heart pushes
towards the sky

v
Propelled by air
she sails through
a tangle of cloud.

She fears blind-eye,
wing-splitting wind,
her feathers sleeched,

she fears the drowning,
her ledge iced, her chick
screeching mid-ocean.

vi
Enter her dusk, her blue cloud,
share her miles, her air streamed,
the gust which carries her,
her  ghost-glide to where
the cuttles have gone.

vii
She returns to last year’s flag in the roof,
knows it by smell, by light, by over and under,
by the tide, the eye of the flounder.

She knows homecoming in her down,
in the flexed tendons of her legs
and the flow of blood through her.

She follows the sun and the moon
with the point of her yellow bill.
The film in her brain loops hatchlings,

(she’s been here before) on the wing,
taking off, settling down. The lichens’ crust
on the ledge is home.

The Board and Editor of Northwords Now acknowledge support from Creative Scotland and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
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