In the pit mirk nicht at the fit o the stairs,
A heard a wee noise that jist made the hairs,
oan the back o ma neck, staun straight up oan end
ma teeth start tae chatter, ma hert fair bend.

A cocked ma lugs an strained fir tae hear.
Wis it ghaists or folk? Wir they faur or near?
Wid they be freenly craturs or murderers foul?
Wir they here fir a blether or a bluidthirsty prowl?

Wi a flash o lichtnin, an a rattle o thunner,
the storm fair brewed an A coontit tae a hunner.
Then A gaithert ma courage an stertit tae climb
When oot o the shaddas twae fit at a time,

A wee black baw o fur an fluff
Came trottin doon the stairs, fair in a huff.
Ma new wee kitten jist gied me a look,
an walkt strecht past, fair famisht fir her food.
Liz Niven

from The Thing that Mattered Most: Scottish poems for children edited by Julie Johnstone (SPL/B&W, 2006)

Reproduced by permission of the author.
Liz Niven

Liz Niven was born in Glasgow in 1952. She was educated at Glasgow University and Jordanhill College of Education, subsequently living in Easter Ross for ten years, and for 18 years in Newton Stewart, Galloway. As a teacher, she has had a strong interest in Scots language in education, recognising that many Scots-speaking children and families are denied their right to speak, and be respected for using, their native tongue. She has been Scots Language Development Officer for Dumfries and Galloway Education Department and Writer-in-Residence for Dumfries and Galloway Arts Association.

Her poetry has been published in most major Scottish magazines, as well as along the River Cree in Galloway, in a commissioned collaboration with sculptors and wood-carvers. Her poetry collections include Cree Lines (2000), Stravaigin (2001) and Burning Whins and Other Poems (2004), and The Shard Box (2010).

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