Some Old Photographs

Some Old Photographs
weather evocative as scent
the romance of dark stormclouds
in big skies over the low wide river
              of long shadows and longer shafts of light

of smoke
     fabulous film-noir stills of Central Station
of freezing fog silvering the chilled, stilled parks
     of the glamorous past
     where drops on a rainmate are sequins
     in the lamplight, in the black-and-white

your young, still-lovely mother laughs, the
hem of her sundress whipped up
by a wind on a beach before you were born

all the Dads in hats
are making for Central at five past five
in the snow, in the rain, in the sudden what-a-scorcher,
in the smog, their
belted dark overcoats white-spattered by the starlings

starlings swarming
in that perfect and permanent cloud
above what was
never really this photograph
but always all the passing now
and noise and stink and smoky breath of George Square

wee boays, a duchess, bunting, there’s a
big launch on the Clyde
and that boat is yet to sail
Liz Lochhead

from A Choosing: Selected Poems (Polygon 2011)

Reproduced by permission of Polygon, an imprint of Birlinn Ltd

Liz Lochhead

Appointed Scots Makar – the National Poet for Scotland – from 2011 to 2016, Liz Lochhead is both transgressive and popular; as Anne Varty wrote, ‘her work is that of one woman speaking to many,  and one person speaking for many’.


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