Loch Thom

Loch Thom

Just for the sake of recovering
I walked backward from fifty-six
Quick years of age wanting to see,
And managed not to trip or stumble
To find Loch Thom and turned round
To see the stretch of my childhood
Before me.  Here is the loch.  The same
Long-beaked cry curls across
The heather-edges of the water held
Between the hills a boyhood’s walk
Up from Greenock.  It is the morning.

And I am here with my mammy’s
Bramble jam scones in my pocket.
The Firth is miles and I have come
Back to find Loch Thom maybe
In this light does not recognise me.

This is a lonely freshwater loch.
No farms on the edge.  Only
Heath grouse-moor stretching
Down to Greenock and One Hope
Street or stretching away across
Into the blue moors of Ayrshire.


And almost I am back again
Wading in the heather down to the edge
To sit.  The minnows go by in shoals
Like iron-filings in the shallows.

My mother is dead.  My father is dead
And all the trout I used to know
Leaping from their sad rings are dead.


I drop my crumbs into the shallow
Weed for the minnows and pinheads.
You see that I will have to rise
And turn round and get back where
My running age will slow for a moment
To let me on.  It is a colder
Stretch of water than I remember.

The curlew’s cry travelling still
Kills me fairly.  In front of me
The grouse flurry and settle.  GOBACK
W. S. Graham

New Collected Poems, edited by Matthew Francis (Faber, 2004)

Reproduced by permission of the Estate of W.S. Graham
W. S. Graham

William Sydney Graham was born in Greenock, Renfrewshire, and spent most of his adult life in Cornwall, where he scraped together a living as a writer. His poetry pays close attention to the structure and possibilities of language; he invites readers to explore with him the means to authentic communication in poems of great energy, wit and humanity.


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