Column 19

This poem is set in Shetland, but the landscape and weather are familiar to me from the Hebrides, particularly given the weather over the last few weeks. It’s from Jen Hadfield’s collection Nigh-No-Place, published by Bloodaxe Books.


At dusk I walked to the postbox,
and the storm that must’ve passed you earlier today
skirled long, luminous ropes of hail between my feet
and I crackled in my waterproof
like a roasting rack of lamb.

And across the loch,
the waterfalls blew right up off the cliff
in grand plumes like smoking chimneys.

And on the road,
even the puddles ran uphill.

And across Bracadale,
a gritter, as far as I cold tell,
rolled a blinking ball of orange light
ahead of it, like a dungbeetle
that had stolen the sun.

And a circlet of iron was torn from a byre
and bowled across the thrift.

And seven wind-whipped cows
clustered under a bluff.

And in a rockpoll,
a punctured football reeled around and around.

And even the dog won’t heel since yesterday
when – sniffing North addictedly –
he saw we had it coming –

and I mean more’n wet weak hail
on a bastard wind.


Used with kind permission of Jan Hadfield and Bloodaxe Books.