Here, rainbows are cheap,
coming in peely-wally pairs or knock-off
trios watercoloured hurriedly
onto skin-thin greasy sheets
of air. They’re not the thick & dazzling
particles that strut their spumes
of jewel on Skye or down by Lleyn,
laddered auroras seeming to climb
beyond the eye & into space
in that brief gasp of time suspended
overhead. Here, they linger drained
of depth & shade, pale arcs of ghost
drifting on the coat-tails of migratory
sun & scraped off soles of native rain.
Summer is eternal & recurring here,
white strands of shell & longitudes of blue
come with the weekly lease & usually
they’ll throw in low tides, unhindered views
of Screel, authentic local beer.
Why try to remember that the cafè’s
only open til September or that
January brings floods that fill the pub,
when bar stools bob around inside
like beach debris, slow golems of Urr mud
inching closer with each sludge of tide?
Hestan’s igneous neb pokes into photos
snapped on soundtracks gushing sun,
children’s laughter, wee dogs yapping
challenges to the world & all the while
David Brown will always falter on
its beach, elude those reaching frantic
hands, be swept away to quietly drown.
There are no holiday snaps of Ian Carruthers
hanging high upon the skerries after
travelling down from Annan, no postcards
of that long gone pasture in the bay
where, fifty years ago, the Purdie brothers
paddled into shallow eternity.
Summer lasts a day, a week, the length
of handpicked memory on film or disk,
departs the moment you do, never follows,
stays forever here. Reminding myself
this isn’t really January, I spool
my eyes back half a year to when
they weren’t watering for them.
Tam O’Shanter Inn, Dumfries
Outside, Dumfries swoons in double
degrees of centigrade, a population
struggles with this upsurge, this assault
upon its northern pigmentation,
take to doorways, huddle under threadbare
trees, devour fags & hanker after times
when weather knew exactly what the fuck
that it was doing. Meanwhile, in the Tam,
there is no climate change, no atmospheric
troughs or peaks or seasons starting early,
ending late, none of that modern pish.
Here it’s always now, time locked in,
unmoving at the bar, expecting
nothing more than the occasional
tectonic yawning of a door.
Stuart A. Paterson was Dumfries & Galloway writer-in-residence from 1996-98. He returned to live in the area in 2012 after 14 years of working in social care in Manchester.
Previously a Gregory Award winner, he received a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship from the Scottish Book Trust in 2014, spending a month in Grez-sur-Loing to complete & compile Border Lines (Indigo Dreams 2015), which won Best Poetry Pamphlet at this year’s Saboteur Awards.
Aye, his first collection in Scots, has just been published by Tapsalteerie Press. Another pamphlet of Galloway poems, Looking South, will be published by Indigo Dreams in 2017.