Black Guillemot, Uria Grylle, ZE023
Sun cracks shadows where coffined cases crouch. Layer upon layer, in drawer
after sectioned drawer, eggs burrow from light, safe in cardboard, cotton-wool
protects their fingerprint patterns. The curious prise the cabinets’ handles. Heat
will never hatch these, sucked and blown dry. Collectors with mutton-chop
whiskers, peer through pince-nez, arrange their spoils with precision. English,
Latin, reference number. Death reduced to copperplate details scribed on each
label, on each egg, in each compartment, in each stack.
He creeps round, in about stalls, ignores
sweated lino, beer odoured mats, hunts down
man-handled pages, inky. Fingers labels, rough-strokes
chocolatey chapters, thumbs words. Overloaded
nostrils tremble and quiver type. He grubs
Garamond, eschews Times Roman. Perfumed
palms slide beneath flaunting jackets to caress. He craves
floppy picture books, sucks their lollypop tales. Inhales
baby powder, exhales jam-sweet memory. Acid-clean
toilets stink-block his path. He swithers waddly, rubs
aniseedy hankie over wide-open pores. Rustles
for curd scones dark deep in secret pockets. Mid aisle, he
hesitates, loose laced leather soles squeak. He catches
a whiff of Foolscap or is it Imperial? Woody
paperbacks waft to his left, sticky annuals behind.
Brain swivels, pulled by poetry’s perfume.
The weight of rock
between head and larks.
The hole in the clog
to set drip-water free.
The tease of sparkle
along ebony faults.
The wrench of oxide
from miser stone.
The chill of geology
scraping at skin.
The stench of tallow
crowding the space.
The scramble when short
straw is pulled.
The laughter at bait,
the suck on clay pipe.
The bargains we strike
with bosses, pals and God.
Slam winning granny Finola Scott’s poems are published in The Ofi Press, Obsessed with Pipework, The Lake, And Other Poems as well as many anthologies. She was mentored by Liz Lochead on Scotland’s Clydebuilt Scheme.