The Powskein, the knife-slash, then Cor Water, the long marsh, Badlieu, all mossy-grey, a wet spot through the day, Smid Hope, the blacksmith’s yards, Glencraigie, rock-hard, Fingland, with white gravel, shining on bright pebbles, and Hawkshaw, if it could talk, the haunt of the hunting hawk. Fruid water, the running one, swift flow in shallow current, Glenbreck, in speckled folds, Glenwhappen, the whaup calls. Menzion, at the standing stones, Talla, the waterfall foams Gameshope, a winter month, back of the wind, a shivery one, Glencotho where the cuckoo’s heard, Glenrusco whose skin is fair, bark from wood, the stripping-bare, Kirk Burn of the grouse hen, the hare’s stone at Hearthstane, Glenheurie has the yew wood. The wolfhunt land is a Polmood where Kings came to hold assize, every kind of fruit tree thrives. Kingledores, the champion’s gateway, Holms’ meadows, islands of greenery. Hopecarton, old fort in the midden, Drumelzier, Medlar’s dun is hidden. The Scrape burn, the gash in the hill, a rough scart, see it you will, the little Louran, a chatterbox burn, the loud voice, the shouting one. Manor’s stony settlements rise, Posso the pleasance, earthly paradise, Hundleshope and Waddenhope, a man’s name in hollow court. Time passing, blooms in places, people there tell differences on the ground by a tributary, name a feature, give stability. It’s for a man who’s not yet born, it’s a place for a future dawn.
Valerie Gillies was the second Edinburgh Makar, or poet laureate of the city, 2005-2008. She was instrumental in shaping the role, an ancient office reinstated in Edinburgh in 2002. She is the author of nine collections of poetry and frequently collaborates with artists, including renowned illustrator Will Maclean, photographer Rebecca Marr, harpist Savourna Stevenson, textile artist Anna King, and art book maker Helen Douglas.Read more about this poet