… no by breid alane but by ilka wurd …
There’s this need to make utterance be heard, even understood
as I shape these words for you gone into that silence from where
I still hear your words as once you heard mine.
Did you believe I wished only to believe
with you and to believe we understood
each other? who have shared the bread and the wine
as we have the air and the sun and now these years
from childhood to this age come at last to me also
and if your words those we have from our forefathers
for that bread and that wine are no longer those
I can use, I must believe you also believe
they are only words if necessary
in face of those questions of that beyond where I would reach
with these, the given words we find on our tongues
from which we can’t escape that I would not disown,
the familiar and necessary words I received from you,
the unanswerable words we share and always shall.
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2005. 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 2005 was Richard Price.
Here the gap down the page creates both a pulse and a kind of questioning, hesitant tone so typical of Gael Turnbull’s modest, generous aesthetic. In the last years of his life he was writing work that matched or exceeded his lifetime best.