Earlier on tonight I smiled when I read RAJ’s status on Facebook: “Alan’s between Leith & Lerwick”.
Mr Jamieson’s adding his final touches to the forthcoming conference at Edinburgh University.
‘BETWEEN LEITH & LERWICK’
An Academic Workshop sponsored by the Royal Society of Edinburgh
in assocation with Scottish Writing in the Nineteenth Century
March 6th 2010, Conference Room, David Hume Tower, University of Edinburgh. There are still a very few places available for this event and these can be reserved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Somewhere between Lerwick and Leith from where I stand.
Two harbours closely entwined through the herring, fish trade in a different century… Like a lifeline between sailors, coopers and gutters.
There is a place where I tattooed a moment in Leith last spring… Another shore where my heart beats. A first poem was born out of it, From Lerwick to Leith
From Lerwick 2 Leith
You never see them fly back north.
In the iris of the gannet,
leagues of ocean crushed on my bow –
freed from the beam of each lighthouse,
I try to find sleep between waves,
as heart drifts away in spring swell,
I’ll cross your red bridge
Beyond the wings of the solan,
miles of tarmac, crash barriers, criss-crossing green
against patches of mustard gorse –
eyes riveted to Scottish sky,
melting distance, junctions & lines…
I can see you at your window.
Amid the dream of the poet,
miles of stillness at traffic lights –
from the top of your capital,
I gaze at patch so maritime
stuck between two rows of facades,
that pace of life I learnt to drown north of your dormant volcano.
…Miles of pavement, whizzing headlights,
as traffic flies in double files,
our minds switched off little red men,
we’re gliding down to your harbour.
From one nomad to another,
we share the soul of the solan, defy the I of the gannets,
as we freeze time inside your den, like a treasure hidden in now…
An old friend said,
“we never see them fly back north.”
I disagree with that statement –
Leith or Lerwick,
they always return to the nest, never to forget a headland.
solan: gannet (Shetland dialect)
© Nat Hall 2009
Edinburgh, 29-30 May 2009
But then another is born out of this memory… As I discover the magic of webcams on Google Earth & Google Maps, my little hand-palm device allows to flick here and forth… Hence delving back in time and location in an instant.
As a clin d’oeil to the great poet’s status, let me now offer you its sibling, The Waterline.
Let’s pin this moment on a map.
One night through this labyrinth of cobbles,
live corridors that twist & burn,
where you led me down to the Shore,
your urban side of the Shoormal
trapped inside locks, lights, boulevards,
where water sleeps deep inside docks.
Now let me dive back in bubbles –
I’ll find my way and remember the Waterline,
your sanctuary in this whirlpool
where we anchored each other’s words
as you unleashed your every wave,
turned blood & body into salt.
And if I swing it all around,
I’ll find myself back in shallows –
imprint my beliefs deep in sand,
scroll again that chart in my hand
where you feel at one
© Nat Hall 2010
Images of the waterline, shoormal in Shetland dialect.