Column 17

I’ve just arrived in Skye where, unlike in the south, the rivers are full to bursting. Here’s a poem from my collection Anatomy of a Whale (published by The Onslaught Press), that was written during a previous visit to the island when the rivers were equally full.

River in Spate

Yesterday we drove over the hill road where the sheep
ghost out of the mist, their black faces shockingly real,

to see the Snizort in spate. There is something shocking
about that too, in the churning of the peat-yellow water.

We were the only car to stop there and wonder at it.
The road simply goes between places, between the coasts

and even the few who choose to settle in the bog-land,
the soft belly of the island, don’t choose to come here

where the road dips down to the river so if you time it right
you can make the kids’ stomachs turn somersaults.

What I remember, though, is coming back in the early hours
and seeing a hind leap the deer fence, then disappear

into the forestry. But is that even possible – how much
of what we think we know is real? True or not,

I carry the image with me, her sinuous form caught
in the headlights, silvering like a salmon in its flight.