As your lover on waking recounts her dreams,
unruly, striking, unfathomable as herself,
your attention wanders
to her moving lips, throat, those slim shoulders
draped in a shawl of light, and what’s being christened here
is not what is said but who is saying it,
the overwhelming fact
she lives and breathes beside you another day.
Other folks’ golf shots being even less interesting
than their dreams, I’ll be brief:
as she spoke I thought of a putt yesterday at the 4th,
as many feet from the pin as I am years from my birth,
several more than I am from my death –
one stiff clip, it birled across the green,
curved up the rise, swung down the dip
like a miniature planet heading home,
and the strangest thing is not what’s going to happen
but your dazed, incredulous knowing it will,
long before the ball reaches the cup then drops,
that it’s turned out right after all,
like waking one morning to find yourself
unerringly in love with your wife.
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2007. 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 2007 was Alan Spence.
Andrew Greig has written some beautiful love poems and a best-selling paean to golf! Here he combines both passions with a delightful conceit - drifting from the loved one recounting a dream, to the memory of an unexpectedly perfect putt, and back again. The movement is seamless: even in the midst of recounting the golf memory, he gets metaphysical - measuring the distance he is from his birth and his death. Then with a single bound he's back to where he started, astonished at the absolute wonder of it all, that it's turned out right after all, and ending with a couplet that catches and celebrates the sheer perfection of the moment.
'A Long Shot' came from a discussion with my friend the poet John Glenday - who, like many Scots, had played some golf in his youth - about how there were so few real poems (as opposed to jokey verse) that involved golf. We challenged each other to write one. This is mine. I'm still waiting eagerly for John's. This last few years I have been increasingly preoccupied by love, mortality and golf: this poem is about all three. A few readers have taken the 'lover' and 'wife' to refer to different people, which would rather defeat the point of the poem, were it true.