Northwords Now

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

The Daft Days

by Jennifer Morag Henderson

More than half the year is made up of lost days and
Daft Days, borrowed days and half the year is
gone – bits of our lives slipping away.

My friends’ faces have fallen into old age
jaws pulling down on screen, lips thinning –
searching the mirror for evidence

and the reflection shows the branches
out the window behind me.
Even a dying elm is teeming with life

the leafless branches, peeling bark are home
to a host of insects, the woodpecker comes into town
to search for them; easy prey.

The crows mob til he flies in a flash of red
the pigeon puffs out its feathers against the cold until
it is as large as a hawk

the starlings arrive later in a burst of noise.
People don’t know what chaos looks like –
the streets are still in the morning air

but the colour of unease is creeping up to the first floor windows like the old fogs
like a sea mist like a haar like a smoky winter frosted morning
delay that sinking dread connection but

tune in now to the outside broadcasts
chaos doesn’t look like explosions,
it is order, overwhelmed –

we are living in the Daft Days now. The Borrowed Days are long gone.
The time slipped through our hands like sand, like it always did,
ran out, and we were back at the beginning again.

Poet’s notes: there are a handful of days in February, or in March, that in old folklore are called the ‘Borrowed Days’. There are many old rhymes about the Borrowed Days, and how the events and weather of these days can shape the rest of the year. ‘Faoilteach’ is Scottish Gaelic, and it can variously mean different things relating to this part of the calendar, but has its roots in the word for ‘wolf’. The ‘Daft Days’ are the days between Christmas and New Year. Dutch Elm Disease has been around for a long time now, but has really only just reached the Highlands.

Northwords Now acknowledges the vital support of Creative Scotland and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
ISSN 1750-7928 - Print Design by Gustaf Eriksson - Website by Plexus Media