When is a wood not a wood. She points out the cold
pillboxes left behind by WW2. Right now! Slaps her hand
against the concrete. God loves a monument! Fingers are
an edgeland, in-between the body and otherwise. This is
how she described me once: inbetweeny. A robin comes
out strong. Nothing here is original! Everything was
planted for use! Always speaking upwards that’s her aim.
I admire the robin’s smooth body. She slaps the concrete
again and smiles. We have the same teeth. Too soft,
endless fillings. A pair of mouths full of chalk. These are
Dad’s lips though. Pillowy masculine energy; a decent
smacking sound. Fussing over a yew tree she asks me to
look up its leaves. ‘Ancient, morbid, toxic’ I read the short
blurb aloud. Now that’s masculine energy! Her voice shuts
up the robin. Grow a pair! She hisses at him in half
meaning then latches onto my arm. Winter has carved us
out. Two more silhouettes against the escarpment. Who
can resist an aside! Moving on she mentions the
masculine energy of other evergreen plants. Really she is
talking about me, about my lips. Narcissism runs in the
family you see! After the concrete she slaps the bark.
Chalk is chunky through the soil too. Good enough to
draw with. She chooses me a piece. Go on! But I can’t
touch that many skeletons at once
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2021. 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 for 2021 was Hugh McMillan.
I like a good prose poem as long as it is one and not just a butchered piece of prose. This is a masterful example of the genre, pacey and full of shimmering imagery, It’s multi layered, complex, sensual, exploring issues of identity in the most seductive and interesting fashion. Each line is a winner, each line makes you stop and think. A marvellous piece of writing that makes you want immediately to seek out the rest of the author’s work.
Walk is centred on types of movement: between ‘mothers’ and ‘fathers’, between speech acts, between types of bodies.