St Ninian’s Isle

St Ninian’s Isle
Hit hed ta be a saint at strayed dis far nort
at cared aboot da sowls o Pictish fisherfock.
Foo da bairns a Rörick man a gawped
at men at biggit chapels, walked in silence.
Someen man a shaan dem whaar da piltocks took
Sweyn Holm, Selkie Gyo; gied dem bere an kale
fae Ireland’s strippit rigs or Bigton’s toons.
Eence here, dey nivver could a left: trist slaked
wi beauty; air laced wi saat an honey.

St Francis could a felt at hame here if he’d come
ta Ninian’s Isle. On a warm day he micht
a tocht himsel on some green suddern shore.
Da burnin pavements o Assisi coulna kyemp
wi dis pale nordern straand: a glisk on watter
is hit kissed da sheenin saand; a smush
o saandiloos aroond his feet, chastin froad
alang da shoormal is he gud. He wid a traded
martins fur a single laverock i da lift
sheerlin blissins on göd an ill alick.
An i da waa o Ninian’s kirk he wid a fun a font
filt wi a stirlin’s laachter. An i dis quiet place
a wagtail micht a tippit in ta sit wi him
- is shö sits apö da alter noo – her flicht
a peerie chancel dance wi dips and tirls
at’s lifted centuries o haerts. She’d be
his perfect cantor for a chorus o göd wirds.

Here, on a boannie day, wi birds apö da wing
aa but da herdest haerts could fin demsels
communin wi da greater scheme o things.
Christine De Luca

from Plain Song (Shetland Library, 2002)

Reproduced by permission of the author.
Christine De Luca

Christine De Luca is a Shetland writer now living in Edinburgh. She writes her poetry in English and in Shetlandic, her mother tongue. She was appointed Edinburgh's Makar for 2014-2017.

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