“Aa ony o us ever wantit was a hoose in Jeffrey Street”
– Old lady, reminiscing on her life in the Cougait.
Moving among sic stanes, I ken
I canna bide lang. I dinna mind
a time I wasna scunnered by this street
and I downa. Gin I could meet it
with a steady gaze for mair nor twa
three minutes at a time, I’d be gaffer
of that gang that’s cawin it doun,
full of speiring wonder and a cowking disgust.
But I have no speiring now, no arguments,
no wonder. I hang about
thae black auld lands and dander owre
thae clairty gutters;
take a measure, make a count
of all the sinners, saints and ghaists
that dern ahint the snibbed and lockit shutters
time put up. And history for me
bides in nae dark entry, but maun forever
dree its kenless weird in the bonnier slums
of Burdiehouse, Gilmerton or even
a heich top-flat in the Dumbiedykes.
For hardly a soul of us ever won to Jeffrey Street.