Over the standing stones of Machrie Moor
Starlight discharges midges across Arran.
The sea is a heron’s breast; desire
Moist lips in front of banked thunderclouds.
Daylight, an orthopaedic surgeon,
Resets the nation’s bones,
Realigns the cave of Robert the Bruce
With mobile-phone masts, fingers veins of whin
Shining along the pit bings of Lanarkshire, attuning
Hip-hop to incunabula.
Kissed nipples; water sucked through a straw;
Slow, body-heat pull; stashed pollen
Carried in a shirt, catkin kisses,
As you close your eyes, then open again,
Intimate places tallied and caressed —
Hand-smoothed kegs of butter.
Let the cold British Empire statues
Weigh down our squares. We’ll slip
Into start-up now, fields stubbly with orchids,
City streets laceworked with light,
Everything we were threatened with and scared out of
Bright today, wedded to our independence,
The held look, the Luckenbooth brooch.
As they rowed
Against the wind
He nearly passed
On the loch,
Till they cried
With a wild shout
And he said,
As the storm
The wind dropped,
They held their breath,
Scared to death,
Mark, 6: 48-51
Robert Crawford‘s seventh collection of poems, Testament, will be published by Cape on 3 July (in which these poems will feature). He teaches at the University of St Andrews and is writing a biography of T. S. Eliot.