Hugh McMillan – three poems

The Nymphaeum

The stream glitters
through the trees like eyes,
all is hush and moving,
the birds, the breeze,
the girls’ hair.
I could stay here
I say, in this shade.
See the light on the water?
Hear its voice? They nod.
Jasmine is talking
of the Goddess’ skin tone
while Lydia searches for 3G.
We share many times like these,
spinning below the sun and stars,
staring at the same space
and seeing different things.
I could stay here some more,
but to the nymphs,
it’s just another door.


The trees are in the water,
knots of bleached roots
and branches,
and green is everywhere,
swollen from deep to lie
on the the loch, on the hills,
on the land that fans away
in the wind forever.
Green has clawed back
masoned stone, pile over pile,
covered our scratch marks,
the monuments to the dead,
the dreams of the living,
all is the same to green:
the colour of sap,
the banner at the foot of the bed.

Today in the Festival,
we will bake our bread,
use our portaloos,
and see the landscape
in songlines,
crafted space and therapy:
tonight we will dance like crabs,
and make shrill noises
through our teeth;
it is our way of showing we are one
with the land, though it sloughs us off
as if we were nothing.
When light comes up once more
like a thin blade we will strike our tepees,
write some applications:
in the studio, make a film called Green.

The Shades of one Shade

When I got up this morning
I saw the glint of a sea loch
in the cup’s meniscus,
in the mirror behind my big head,
on the dank hillside like a mirage,

the sheep moving like buoys.
It’s the stab of autumn.
Now sick summer’s gone
with its smoke and mirrors
we can come into our own:
all the shades of one shade;
our stones, our seas,
our mountain tops,
our cold coming home.

Hugh McMillan is a poet from South West Scotland who has won several competitions including the Smith/Doorstep Pamphlet Prize, the Callum MacDonald Prize and the Cardiff International Poetry Competition. A substantial selection of his poems, Not Actually Being in Dumfrieswas published by Luath Press in September 2015.

Hugh’s blog can be found at


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s