Whan du telt me hoo du thowt o ‘luck’
as nae mair as chance, de happy hubbelskju
o aentropie, I thowt onnly o de ben-end
o my grandmidder’s hoose an aa her talismans
o tat. Inbi, luck wis acht an lenned lik coins,
hot fae de löf. Dere wis wyes aboot it:
a sixpence fir de scratchcairds; tree skoilts
o a gingernut wid gie dee a wish; a dram
onnly ivvir gied sungaets roond de room.
Ee time, ower supper, shö telt me hoo shö won
an aamos fae a haafman; a beaded bag
fir a skurtfoo o her luck at sea. I browt him
tae de dance dat week, but someen took him
fae de cloakroom. Less. Dere’s joost some tings
dat du canna keep a haad o. Dat’s true enoff.
It seems tae me wir luck his aye been wattir
cupped by hands at prayer, in a langwich
at his mair wirds fir ill-luckit tings as fair.
Nivir leet, shö says. De lotto’s demoarn.
Can I git dee a gingernut?
Translations of this Poem
Translator: Roseanne Watt
When you told me how you thought of ‘luck’
as nothing more than chance, the fortunate ricochets
of entropy, I thought only of the ben-end
of my grandmother’s house and all her talismans
of tat. In there, luck was owned and lent like coins,
hot from the palm. There were ways about it.
A sixpence for the scratchcards; three broken pieces
of a gingernut would grant you a wish; a dram
only ever went clockwise round the room.
One time, over supper, she told me how she won
an aamos from a fisherman; a beaded bag
for an armful of her luck at sea. ‘I brought it
to the dance that week, but someone took it
from the cloakroom. A shame. Some things
you just can’t keep hold of.’ That’s true enough.
It seems to me our luck has always been water
cupped by hands at prayer, in a language
that has more words for bad luck than for fair.
‘Never mind,’ she says. ‘The lotto’s tomorrow.
Can I get you a gingernut?’
About this poem
Lukkie: a term of endearment for an elderly woman
Aamos: a gift promised in the hope that a wish will be granted to the donor. The donor is said to ‘lay on an aamos’ and, if the wish is granted, the person who was presumed to have brought the luck is said to have ‘won’ the aamos.