A particular sap is in season.
At night I am visited by fish, their tiny bodies
pulled from a book. Explaining myself to myself
I would say joy is so easily hallucinated.
Couldn’t load the page when I typed in river.
You in your red coat, watching the deer.
Put ice cubes in the potted tree
in your apartment
I differ in dreams from the eloquence begged;
you don’t reply. My skin is of love and salt.
Conner says you have to go through your
I am rolling my tarry dreams
in the car park at the world’s bright core.
I am loved by mice, rarely men
I melt in drinks.
Close your eyes and imagine a place.
Oven-baked, the sap was hot and thick,
needed to sit. Six years ago
we almost commented. I will learn words
that mean the length of such quiddity.
This will be cut into coasters
to settle a former burning, say.
Put down your glasses, software.
Mark my words –
cover us covers us.
All that I have is the currency of song:
riverrun, rush into sutures
The fish would leap
and speak their research.
we look up to smile at the others,
start to yelp.
Cars are just things in the distance,
colour to colour, signing off.
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2020. 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 2020 was Janette Ayachi.
‘I am rolling in my tarry dreams / in the carpark at the world’s bright core.’ For the reasons I selected this poem, I just want to write out the entire poem! All the melting and liquifying and its ‘quiddity’ had me seduced, right through the ‘sutures’ of the text, in parts I was quite disrobed to gasp! The ‘lifestream’ of all these little things, the human condition swimming in circles, for it is not just fish or cars bound to a roundabout, but the bloodlines who tear up from the underworld with scrolls of wisdom. There is something deeply cosmic about this poem, each short sentence is rooted in the abyssal plains of nature-culture and holds a freestream frequency akin to song.
I wanted to write a post-internet, not-really-nature and heartbreak poem about the suspension, stuckness and dissolve that happen in convergences of language, landscape and the doom-scrolls of social media. ‘Lifestream’ offers a living feed, something more nourishing, an algorithm of dreams to feel held in and flow through. I wanted a poem that was clipped, kind of nippy, but also let in wee moments of release or melt — where something secret slips through and you know it’s alive by the trace of its colour and change. I was thinking about how we orient memory around periods of time that are also material: they might be sedimentary, well-roasted, bubbly, hot, burning and cut. And the magic fish of the poem came from something my wise friend Frannie said when we drove past a rainbow over the Firth of Clyde and out of nowhere she went, ‘I wonder what the fish think’.