February, and the rising light leaves nothing illegible.
Meall Fuar Mhonaidh, snow-fisted, risks its name,
a lump of rock, rounded; a muscled hill,
a pocket Atlas numbering the days
since glaciers versed the shivering moor.
We shiver too; the east wind wheechs us past the gorge
And over too-high stiles towards the ridge.
the road to Innis Tealleach barred.
How many signs? Private. Keep out. In the Great War
our great-grandfather worked these slopes, his life
out-distanced now by time and fence; his view
rescripted in this public, narrowed trail.
No Innes Teallach.
No glimpse of the rough stone wall
the rowan and clumped snowdrops.
it’s February! Wyvis sulks in cloud.
Meall Fuar Mhonaidh, clear-headed in the gale
unfolds South, West and East; ecstatic peaks
surging through cold years towards the waves
where all our history began: a lyric feast
Glorious, small. Unfettered.
About this poem
This poem was commissioned by Mary Scanlon, MSP for Highlands and Islands, in 2005. It was part of the second stage of the SPL’s Holyrood Link project, through which poets and MSPs were partnered and explored areas of mutual interest.
Mary Scanlon comments:
It was a pleasure to meet with Anne MacLeod and I love the poem. Every time I read it something different comes out.