Northwords Now

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

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The Cairn with its Back to Ireland

by Antonia Kearton

If I could have a superpower
it would be flight,
because I’m scared of falling.

I’ve always been afraid.
Even as a little girl, looking up,
I thought the tenements would fall on me.

My worst dreams now
are of my children falling,
sometimes from cliffs, sometimes

into swollen rivers.  Sometimes falling
isn’t falling, but the sea rearing up against me,
battering our windows.  

Even on my magic isle,
the one I know so well –
where to find the little marble stones like tears,

when to swim in the lagoon of the White Port,
with the tide coming in
over sun-warmed shell sand -

even here, there is one place
in the south west corner,
below the Cairn with its Back to Ireland,

where I’ve never been -
the last green swathe
before the Atlantic’s heave,

below a tall grassy cliff.  
I stood there looking,
but did not climb down  

in case I fell, and couldn’t
find my way back up.  But if I could fly
I would be without limits.   

Perhaps it’s a good thing
to have an unexplored place,
to know there’s always somewhere beyond,

somewhere I cannot go.

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