Who wakes every morning
in a brilliant mood as auburn bursts
cast filigree nets over foreheads
and swingparks and paint themselves
on pavements. Up gets the brickworks,
frost needles arms, winds shriek
through my Munros, gossiping
as another small dug sinks
into deep snow; and the day floats down
like a feather from the sky. Ach,
barks a father’s voice caught
in the breeze, let him sing his
song and paint whitever it is
he cares tae paint. I’ve a soft spot fur daft
romantics and who wouldnae
grasp for it, when it really could be it.
My cities breathe in the rivers,
salute the environmentalists: snail
savers, wall walkers, ally
of Elm and Ash. Every day my oceans
swallow five hundred thousand footprints,
strangle gulls in fitted laughter,
emit the salty corpse; seasplash
spears a drunken busker
mixing up his cluster chords.
I, too, forget such simple things,
perhaps have never known
all the numbers of the buses
and their routes, the vagaries in roadworks;
but I do remember bonfires
in aw them bellies as whole families
politicised breakfast over toasted soldiers
and eggs unfit and fit for dipping.
We jumped without parachutes,
so they’d have you think (skirted
around each other’s glances
like window cleaners avoiding
a high-up mucky splodge); it wasn’t that
at all, more a faith in flying.
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2017. Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of 20 poems chosen by a different editor each year, with comments by the editor and poets. It provides a personal overview of a year of Scottish poetry. The editor in 2017 was Roddy Woomble.
The poem was written about that point in time (you might remember) where Caledonia / me, you and everyone we know ruminated the shine and shadow Scotland would cast across the globe. It took til a little later to be a fuller formed thing – see it’s not specifically an independence piece but then again what is? ‘Hello I am Scotland’ is a leap (for me) and an exploration (for the reader) into the more unusual and less mooted parts of Scottish identity that pull us thigether and tear us apart. It references a poem ‘Hello I am Cambodia’ in ma previous collection. In the collection Oyster it appears in, the poem is twinned with an illustration by Scott Hutchison – this is a map of Scotland what huz pished itself – take from that what you will.