Northwords Now

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Couple, New Cumnock

by Hugh McMillan

He’s drinking strawberry hooch
and adding to it
from a green vial
like in a horror film.

She is half sleeping on her
handbag. They both look
about fifteen but my compass
is off on these matters.

The train is passing
New Cumnock, and he takes
his parka off to cover her,
even though she already

has a parka, and strokes
her face under a curl
of blonde hair
that seems carelessly

arranged but has taken
a hundred thousand years
of human evolution
to place in exactly that

heartbreaking manner
on her white cheek.
I want to say cherish
and take care,

but somehow it’s like
a painting and I wouldn’t
say cherish and take care
to a masterpiece

even though it has flaws,
so I watch them instead
poised like this
while the rain comes down.

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