Northwords Now

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

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Island o Death

by Kevin Cormack

Like Moses oan a mobility scooter
he sat, deid, within sight o the promeesed land:
the back berr o The Kirkwall Hotel.
Closs by a teenage boy, perched oan tubular
metal raileens, scanned the shut-doon face,
the owld hand hingan, pale in the driv,
runkled like drookled newspaper. An whit tae mak
o the blotted belly whuppid up in a tarpalyin kott,
like the guy afore bonfire night?

Some fock wakked by, oblivious. Some
said aye-aye, oblivious. The boy half-laughed
ower tae mates who werena there, checked himsael
wae an exaggerated blink, frowned doon
at his phone, puzzled. The deid man caerried oan
starin at the pub door in hids darkened nook,
the ootline an window aglow.
A daft peedie bright flag
fleetered aboot oan the gangly ariel sproutan
fae the back o the scooter. The whole thing
seemed a mosst ancient set-up: an abandoned alien
radio-rig atop o some haar-drenched hill,
bliind an dreich, transported tae Bridge Street.
An island o death.

The rain steppid up a gear, waashan doon
the owld man’s face. Nearby closses shrunk,
dank an sinister. The boy hid heard the name afore,
bit couldna mind oan noo. He havered a meenit
oan his perch, gawkan, gittan weet…
then shrugged off the raileens,
heeded doon t’waard the pier, the blue —
the blue whar the botts kissed
each ither ivver so lightly
in the besseen.


driv  fine rain, drizzle
drookled  drenched
haar  sea mist, fog
dreich  dreary, bleak
closses  narrow passages between buildings
gawkan  staring vacantly

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