r2vyln3rdioj14u-rld0ska where mountains meet the sea: 2009

Fog at dusk

Fogs move in drifts and where the drifting comes
Their cold webs change clear bushes into slums
Where branches blacken with an evil stain
From drops that could not ever have been rain.

The fog webs fatten the spiders' till they sag
As thick as cloths. I touch one - its cold rag
Becomes a filthy glove. Trees disappear
And come again, translating there to here.

A drift goes by. I walk out of the murk
And see, high overhead, the moon at work
Like Cinderella, though soon to be so proud,
In the cold kitchen of a sluttish cloud.

Hollows are cups of vapour. One, too full,
Spills over, slow as lava. The seapool
Is ghosted with false sails. A window's spark
Is a red eye that burns sore in the dark

Norman MacCaig

Old Highland woman

She sits all day by the fire.
How long is it since she opened the door
and stepped outside, confusing
the scuffling hens and the collie
dreaming of sheep?
Her walking days are over.

She has come here through centuries
of Gaelic labour and loves
and rainy funerals. Her people
are assembled in her bones.
She's their summation. Before her time
has almost no meaning.

When neighbours call
she laughs a wicked cackle
with love in it, as she listens
to the sly bristle of gossip,
relishing the life in it,
relishing the malice, with her hands
lying in her lap like holy psalms
that once had a meaning for her, that once
were noble with tunes
she used to sing long ago.

Norman MacCaig

The modern clearances which took place within the last quarter of a century in Guisachan, Strathglass, by Sir Dudley Marjoribanks, have been described in all their phases before a Committee of the House of Commons in 1872. The Inspector of Poor for the parish of Kiltarlity wrote a letter which was brought before the Committee, with a statement from another source that, "in 1855, there were 16 farmers on the estate; the number of cows they had was 62, and horses, 24; the principal farmer had 2000 sheep, the next 1000, and the rest between them 1200, giving a total of 4200. Now (1873) there is but one farmer, and he leaves at Whitsunday; all these farmers lost the holdings on which they ever lived in competency; indeed, it is well known that some of them were able to lay by some money. They have been sent to the four quarters of the globe, or to vegetate in Sir Dudley's dandy cottages at Tomich, made more for show than convenience, where they have to depend on his employment or charity. To prove that all this is true, take at random, the smith, the shoemaker, or the tailor, and say whether the poverty and starvation were then or now? For instance, under the old regime, the smith farmed a piece of land which supplied the wants of his family with meal and potatoes; he had two cows, a horse, and a score or two of sheep on the hill; he paid £7 of yearly rent; he now has nothing but the bare walls of his cottage and smithy, for which he pays £10. Of course he had his trade then as he has now. Will he live more comfortably now than he did then? "It was stated, at the same time, that, when Sir Dudley Marjoribanks bought the property, there was a population of 235 souls upon it, and Sir Dudley, in his examination, though he threw some doubt upon that statement, was quite unable to refute it. The proprietor, on being asked, said that he did not evict any of the people. But Mr. Macombie having said, "Then the tenants went away of their own free will," Sir Dudley replied, "I must not say so quite. I told them that when they had found other places to go to, I wished to have their farms."

They were, in point of fact, evicted as much as any others of the ancient tenantry in the Highlands, though it is but fair to say that the same harsh cruelty was not applied in their case as in many of the others recorded in these pages. Those who had been allowed to remain in the new cottages, are without cow or sheep, or an inch of land, while those alive of those sent off are spread over the wide world, like those sent, as already described, from other places.
from The History of The Highland Clearances by Alexander MacKenzie

Wild Mountainside

Beauty is within grasp
Hear the islands call
The last mile is upon us
I'll carry you if you fall
I know the armour's heavy now
I know the heart is tired
It's beautiful just over
The wild mountainside

Snow is falling all over
Out of clear blue sky
Crow is flying high over
You and I are going to wander
High up where the air is rare
Wild horses ride
It's beautiful, let's go over
The wild mountainside

Wild and free we roam
Only a mile to go

Wild and free we roam
Only a mile to go

Beauty is within grasp
Hear the highlands call
The last mile is upon us
I'll carry you if you fall
I know the armour's heavy now
I know the heart inside
It's beautiful let's go over
The wild mountainside
It's beautiful just roaming
The wild mountainside

John Douglas, of the Scottish band Trashcan Sinatras


a testament to
Scotland's cold months

When the snow falls,
Over barren hills,
When the wind blows,
Sending cold, dark chills,
Inside a house,
Inside an inn,
The fire is warm,
And burns within,
The trees are bare,
The animals hide,
The water is frozen,
It's cold outside,
The sky is dark,
The birds are gone,
The wind has chased them,
Far from home,
The snowman lives,
The scarecrow dies,
The snowballs form,
The songbirds cry,
All is dark,
And all is cold,
Warm is gone,
And winter unfolds.

Andrew McDiarmid


A transit crawls up on stealthy tyres—

byres bump shore on breakers of fog,

gates pause on hinges of fog,

a cat is crayoned on a throne of fog,

and leaning from the cab in shirt-sleeves,

one elbow rowing the visible air,

it is so mild, he says, as fog

consolidates his stacked, white hair.

Jen Hadfield

'stumba' is Shetlandic for 'a thick mist'

The Caledonian Bank

The Caledonian Banking Company was established as a joint-stock company in Inverness in 1838, with a nominal capital of £125,000. The Gaelic motto used on its banknotes - Tir nam Beann, nan Gleann, s'an Gaisgeach - translates as "Land of Mountains, Glens and Heroes".

Between 1838 and 1845 the bank established 20 branches in the Moray Firth, Caithness and Wester Ross areas of the Highlands. Its expansion eastwards, however, caused friction with the Aberdeen-based North of Scotland Bank, which saw the Caledonian as encroaching on its patch.

The main customers of the Caledonian Bank consisted of farmers, Highland gentry, fishermen, whisky distillers and grain factors, along with summer visitors. The head office on Inverness High Street was built in 1847 to the design of Mackenzie and Matthews.

(archive photo)
Former head office of the Caledonian Bank, High Street, Inverness

The Bank continued to enjoy relative growth until the collapse of the City of Glasgow Bank in 1878. The Caledonian Bank held £400 of the City of Glasgow Bank's stock as security. The latter did not have limited liability and so shareholders were responsible for all liabilities. Panic set in and the Caledonian Bank was forced to close its doors, temporarily, on 5th December 1878. The Bank of Scotland agreed to tide over the Caledonian Bank, and this assistance, along with the realisation that the City of Glasgow Bank liability stood at only £11,000, enabled the Caledonian Bank to reopen its doors for business in August 1879.

The rot however had set in, and the bank's decline became increasingly evident around the turn of the century. In 1896 it had liabilities of £1,223,000 and net profits of only £14,000. By 1907, the Bank's reserves were down to £195,000 with net profits barely over £12,000.

(archive photo)
Caledonian Bank £1 note (1904) and £100 note (1883)

Two other factors finally put the nail in the coffin. Firstly, the bank's lending and investment controls were not stringent enough. Some of the famous Highland distilleries that were built around the turn of the century would not have been possible had the more stringent banking attitudes of the Edinburgh and Glasgow banks prevailed. Secondly, the failure of the Scottish India Coffee Company of Madras Province, which went into liquidation in 1902, left the Caledonian Bank with a debt of £30,000.

Unable to recover, the Caledonian Bank directors approached Bank of Scotland for an amalgamation in 1906, which the proprietors duly agreed to at a special meeting in 1907.

The above article is taken from the Lloyds Banking Group website. Sadly, Lloyds acquired the Bank of Scotland in January of this year, making it the largest retail bank in Britain...for now. And so, the cycle continues.

As for the former head office, it is now a pub....

(a closer look at some of the detail)

To Exiles

Are you not weary in your distant places,
Far, far from Scotland of the mist and storm,
In drowsy airs, the sun-smite on your faces,
The days so long and warm?
When all around you lie the strange fields sleeping,
The dreary woods where no fond memories roam,
Do not your sad hearts over seas come leaping
To the highlands and the lowlands of your Home?

Wild cries the Winter, loud through all our valleys:
The midnights roar, the grey noons echo back;
Round steep storm-bitten coasts the eager galleys
Beat for kind harbours from horizons black;
We tread the miry roads, the rain-drenched heather,
We are the men, we battle, we endure!
God's pity for you people in your weather
Of swooning winds, calm seas, and skies demure!

Wild cries the Winter, and we walk song-haunted
Over the moors and by the thundering falls,
Or where the dirge of a brave past is chaunted
In dolorous dusks by immemorial walls.
Though rains may thrash on us, the great mists blind us,
And lightning rend the pine-tree on the hill,
Yet we are string, yet shall the morning find us
Children of tempest all unshaken still.

We wander where the little grey towns cluster
Deep in the hills, or selvedging the sea,
By farm-lands lone, by woods where wildfowl muster
To shelter from the day’s inclemency;
And night will come, and then far through the darkling,
A light will shine out in the sounding glen,
And it will mind us of some fond eye’s sparkling,
And we’ll be happy then.

Let torrents pour then, let the great winds rally,
Snow-silence fall, or lightning blast the pine;
That light of Home shines warmly in the valley,
And, exiled son of Scotland, it is thine.
Far have you wandered over seas of longing,
And now you drowse, and now you well may weep,
When all the recollections come a-thronging
Of this rude country where your fathers sleep.

They sleep, but still the hearth is warmly glowing,
While the wild Winter blusters round their land:
That light of Home, the wind so bitter blowing --
Do they not haunt your dreams on alien strand?
Love, strength, and tempest--oh, come back and share them!
Here’s the old cottage, here the open door;
Fond are our hearts although we do not bare them,--
They're yours, and you are ours for ever-more.

Neil Munro

Moment musical in Assynt

A mountain is a sort of music: theme
And counter theme displaced in air amongst
Their own variations.
Wagnerian Devil signed the Coigach score;
And God was Mozart when he wrote Cul Mor.

You climb a trio when you climb Cul Beag.
Stac Polly - there's a rondo in seven sharps,
Neat as a trivet.
And Quinag, ralletando in the haze,
Is one long tune extending phrase by phrase.

I listen with my eyes and see through that
Mellifluous din of shapes my masterpiece
Of masterpieces:
One sandstone chord that holds up time in space -
Sforzando Suilven reared on his ground bass.

Norman MacCaig

39 steps


Annabella Smith: Have you ever heard of the 39 Steps?
Richard Hannay: No. What's that, a pub?

John Buchan,  The Thirty-Nine Steps

Time and Sgurr Urain

Tonight on the shoulder of Sgurr Urain
on the top of Kintail,
Above the floor of Glen Shiel,
it is not of stag or hind I murmur.

For John son of Murdo
is up and down in the glen
And the smoke of Torr-laoighsich
lasts under the kindness of the mavis.

Farquhar of the Kettle is heard
with his finger-end whistle,
and the Burn of the Axe King
runs by the braes it was used to.

Another Big Duncan is
On Sherriffmuir on the battlefield,
And Duncan of the Silver Cups
in high-wooded Inverinate.

Young Angus of Glengarry
Is in Clachan Duich under the threshold,
And the Third Hand of Generosity is
Under the turf of Cnoc nan Aingeal.

The warriors of Clan Matheson are
about the Field-of-the-Two-Descents,
and Clan MacRae is going home
to that famous Cro of Kintail.

The beautiful high head of Sgurr Urain
Casts its eye over the waters
to the notched-knife-edge of Liathach
and the bounds of Ben Nevis.

Time stops on the mountain
and is idle in my desire
for in my thoughts they are equal,
those of yesterday and the day before it.

Equal in my thoughts
those lasting and those gone and neglected
since the heroism of the Kintail men
is as fresh as the beauty of the mountain.

Doubly fortunate that clan
who got this beauty for heritage;
the fame of the Kintail men is the whiter
for the white snow of Sgurr Urain.

Time in whirling winds
about the steep slopes,
and time in eddying currents
coming north through Kyle Rhea.

Bringing the fleet of Clan Donald
to the strife of the Cailleach
and Black William of Seaforth
going up the Glen to the battle;

Coming with the breeze of the songs
and a mist on the mountains,
a dew on the memory,
a breaking wave to the vision.

Ice on Sgurr Urain
And a vapour on the heights
Where the splendours of Scotland
Are right around Kintail.

Sorley MacLean, trans from the Gàidhlig

The Big Mistake

the shepherd on the train told me

is to clip hill milking ewes too soon

I put my newspaper down;
he'd got my attention.

Nothing puts the milk off them quicker
than just a day like last Wednesday.
And when it goes off at this time of year,
it never comes back.

His warning continues

They never get so rough in the backend,
and have less protection
against the storms and the winter chill.

He glances up,
checks his crook in the luggage rack

And another thing
is that the wool neither weighs so heavy
nor looks so well. It's the new growth
that brings down the scales.

A fleece from a ewe that's near
hasn't the same feel as one from a ewe
that has plenty of rise and a good strong stoan.

In the beginning of July the new wool on a thin ewe
will grow more in one week under the fleece
than it will do in three with the fleece clipped off.

He summarised his argument for me

Experienced flock masters never clip hill stocks
before the second week of July.
In terms of the sheep's sufferings
a strong sun is little less severe than a cold rain.

He stopped there
looked out the window at the passing fields
then fell asleep to Waverley
content that a stranger in a suit
had listened to his wisdom
this wisdom I now share with you.

Jim Carruth

this frieze of mountains

Glaciers, grinding West, gouged out
these valleys, rasping the brown sandstone,
and left, on the hard rock below — the
ruffled foreland —
this frieze of mountains, filed
on the blue air — Stac Polly,
Cul Beag, Cul Mor, Suilven,
Canisp — a frieze and
a litany.

Who owns this landscape?
has owning anything to do with love?
For it and I have a love-affair, so nearly human
we even have quarrels. —
When I intrude too confidently
it rebuffs me with a wind like a hand
or puts in my way
a quaking bog or a loch
where no loch should be. Or I turn stonily
away, refusing to notice
the rouged rocks, the mascara
under a dripping ledge, even
the tossed, the stony limbs waiting.

I can't pretend
it gets sick for me in my absence,
though I get
sick for it. Yet I love it
with special gratitude, since
it sends me no letters, is never
jealous and, expecting nothing
from me, gets nothing but
cigarette packets and footprints.

Who owns this landscape? —
The millionaire who bought it or
the poacher staggering downhill in the early morning
with a deer on his back?

Who possesses this landscape? —
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?

False questions, for
this landscape is
and intractable in any terms
that are human.
It is docile only to the weather
and its indefatigable lieutenants —
wind, water and frost.
The wind whets the high ridges
and stunts silver birches and alders.
Rain falling down meets
springs gushing up —
they gather and carry down to the Minch
tons of sour soil, making bald
the bony scalp of Cul Mor. And frost
thrusts his hand in cracks and, clenching his fist,
bursts open the sandstone plates,
the armour of Suilven:
he bleeds stones down chutes and screes,
smelling of gunpowder.

Or has it come to this,
that this dying landscape belongs
to the dead, the crofters and fighters
and fishermen whose larochs
sink into the bracken
by Loch Assynt and Loch Crocach? —
to men trampled under the hoofs of sheep
and driven by deer to
the ends of the earth — to men whose loyalty
was so great it accepted their own betrayal
by their own chiefs and whose descendants now
are kept in their place
by English businessmen and the indifference
of a remote and ignorant government....

Norman MacCaig, extract from A Man in Assynt


with thanks to Neil

Often have I seen them come together,

two old friends, two crofters,
who after a brief murmured greeting
will stand wordlessly together,
side by side, not facing each other,
and look out on the land whose
ways and memories unite them,
breathe in the air, and the scent of
tobacco and damp and lamb scour,
in the certain knowledge that talk
would hamper that expansive communion,
break in on their golden awareness
of all there is between them.

Meg Bateman

The Exile

He came in the mist of a cold winter's morning
Down from his horse and he knocked on the door
The eyes that looked out they were darkened by terror
He could see on his face the ill tidings he bore

It is not my will but the will of the master
Your thatch will be burned if you be not away
By sundown this evening with all your possessions
To find a new home ere the breaking of day

For these are my orders, the stones must be scattered
The white coated sheep now must rule in the Glen
No room now for pity for mothers or children
The lusting of gold is the target of men

But where can we go, those who've never known other
Than the Glens of our birth neath the high mountain snow
To cross the wild ocean would tear at our half boots
But fate has decreed it, it must be so

Across the wild sea we must go for our lives now
To build a new home on the far distant shore
But ever and ever the heartbeats are Highland
And to sigh for the Glens that will see us no more

But fate is not heartless and new hearts are kindly
A fragment of Scotland will ever remain
Though oceans divide us our children will span them
And stand in the thyme and the heather again

But fate is not heartless and new hearts are kindly
A fragment of Scotland will ever remain
Though oceans divide us our children will span them
And stand in the thyme and the heather again



Writing at my desk,
I look out across the sea—
words slip their moorings

Caroline Gourlay, from Global Haiku Anthology 53

going home

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.

John Muir

Aig Tursachan Chalanais / At Callanish Stones

Cha robh toiseach no deireadh air a’ chearcall,
cha robh iochdar no uachdar aig ar smuain,
bha an cruinne-cè balbh a’ feitheamh,
gun muir a’ sliobadh ri tràigh,
gun feur a’ gluasad ri gaoith,
cha robh là ann no oidhche –
is gu siorraidh cha chaill mi cuimhneair
do chuailean bàn ’s do bheul meachair,
no air an aon-dùrachd a shnaoidh sinn
ri chèile an cearcall na tìme,
far nach suath foill ann an tràigh dòchais.

Ruaraidh MacThòmais

At Callanish Stones

The circle had neither end nor beginning,

our thought had neither start nor finish,
the still universe was waiting,
sea not stroking the land,
grass not moving in wind,
there was no day, no night –
and I shall never forget
your fair hair and tender lips,
or the shared desire that wove us
together in time’s circle
where treachery will not touch hope’s shore.

Derick Thomson

a diver's song

Something is in there, out there, down there, flails and dwells

In inner silence. He wants to meet
It, to come back dry, dripping, and greet

The day from the loch's beyond, its call
Calling inside him. Wants above all

To sound the loch's full volume right at ground
Level, be lost in it, pushed by it, sung by it, not to be found.

Robert Crawford, from Full Volume

Canedolia - an off-concrete Scotch fantasia

oa! hoy! awe! ba! mey!
who saw?
rhu saw rum. garve saw smoo. nigg saw tain. lairg saw lagg. rigg saw eigg. largs saw haggs. tongue saw luss. mull saw yell. stoer saw strone. drem saw muck. gask saw noss. unst saw cults. echt saw banff. weem saw wick. trool saw twatt.
how far?
from largo to lunga from joppa to skibo from ratho to shona from ulva to minto from tinto to tolsta from soutra to marsco from braco to barra from alva to stobo from fogo to fada from gigha to gogo from kelso to stroma from hirta to spango.
what is it like there?
och it’s freuchie, it’s faifley, it’s wamphray, it’s frandy, it’s sliddery.
what do you do?
we foindle and fungle, we bonkle and meigle and maxpoffle. we scotstarvit, armit, wormit, and even whifflet. we play at crosstobs leuchars, gorbals, and finfan. we scavaig, and there’s aye a bit of tilquhilly. if it’s wet, treshnish and mishnish.
what is the best of the country?
blinkbonny! airgold! thundergay!
and the worst?
scrishven, shiskine, scrabster, and snizort.
listen! what’s that?
catacol and wauchope, never heed them.

tell us about last night?
well, we had a wee ferintosh and we lay on the quiraing. it was pure strontian!
but who was there?
petermoidart and craigenkenneth and cambusputtock and ecclemuchty and corriehulish and balladolly and altnacanny and clauchanvrechan and stronachlochan and auchenlacher and tighnacrankie and tilliebruaich and killiehara and invervannach and achnatudlem and machrishellach and inchtamurchan and auchterfechan and kinlochculter and ardnawhallie and
and what was the toast?
schiehallion! schiehallion! schiehallion!

Edwin Morgan


Nothing in sight but water's deferrals,
deflections, its million-galloned grief;
though sometimes, when the light is angled so
as to prism inside the waves' tips,
it seems we're actually anchored in fields:
that we could drop off and land on our feet
in a rich plough-land confected with frost,
in mud flats, or sand dunes. We could forget
dry land is a dream in the dream of it

Frances Leviston

To My Mountain

Since I must love your north
of darkness, cold, and pain,

the snow, the lovely glen,
let me love true worth,

the strength of the hard rock,
the deafening stream of wind
that carries sense away
swifter than flowing blood.

Heather is harsh to tears
and the rough moors
give the buried face no peace
but make me rise,

and oh, the sweet scent, and purple skies!

Kathleen Raine

The House

It's only a small house
standing in isolation.
No new things are inside
- there's not a video in sight.

But you get warmth and talk
you get food and tea.
You get the knowledge of the old people
- the things that are important in the world.

Coinneach MacMhanais


Dark, dark was the day when we looked on Culloden
And chill was the mist drop that clung to the tree,
The oats of the harvest hung heavy and sodden,
No light on the land and no wind on the sea.
There was wind, there was rain, there was fire on their faces,
When the clans broke the bayonets and died on the guns,
And ’tis Honour that watches the desolate places
Where they sleep through the change of the snows and the suns.

Unfed and unmarshalled, outworn and outnumbered,
All hopeless and fearless, as fiercely they fought,
As when Falkirk with heaps of the fallen was cumbered,
As when Gledsmuir was red with the havoc they wrought.
Ah, woe worth you, Sleat, and the faith that you vowed,

Ah, woe worth you, Lovat, Traquair, and Mackay;
And woe on the false fairy flag of Macleod,
And the fat squires who drank, but who dared not to die!

Where the graves of Clan Chattan are clustered together,
Where Macgillavray died by the Well of the Dead,
We stooped to the moorland and plucked the pale heather
That blooms where the hope of the Stuart was sped.
And a whisper awoke on the wilderness, sighing,

Like the voice of the heroes who battled in vain,
“Not for Tearlach alone the red claymore was plying,
But to bring back the old life that comes not again.”

Andrew Lang


If we were in Talisker on the shore
where the great white foaming mouth of water
opens between two jaws as hard as flint -
the Headland of Stones and the Red Point -
I'd stand forever by the waves
renewing love out of their crumbling graves
as long as the sea would be going over
the Bay of Talisker forever;
I would stand there by the filling tide
till Preshal bowed his stallion head.

And if the two of us were together
on the shores of Calgary in Mull
between Scotland and Tiree,
between this world and eternity,
I'd stand there till time was done
counting the sands grain by grain.
And also on Uist, on Homhsta's shore,
in the face of solitude's fierce stare,
I'd remain standing, without sleep,
while sea were ebbing, drop by drop.

And if i were on Moidart's shore
with you, my novelty of desire,
I'd offer this synthesis of love,
grain and water, sand and wave.
And were we by the shelves of Staffin
were the huge joyless sea is coughing
stones and boulders from its throat,
I'd build a fortified wall
against eternity's savage howl.

Sorley Maclean trans. from Gàidhlig (Dàin do Eimhir) by Iain Crichton Smith

the lonely shore

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.

George Gordon, Lord Byron, from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage



Tired and dejected hair dripping
wet trying to hitch a ride
up Loch Lomondside. Her mini
stops short, a shaking wheezing
white terrier. I stare in
surprise I've waited nearly four
hours for this moment. 'Cumonn.
Guerrin.' She drawls we jerk
off and smash the puddles northwards.

'Road's crawling with bloody
hitchers' she complains, 'but
I liked the tired way you
smiled.' We talk, she teaches
poetry in Australia, I read
her some of mine, she's impressed.
Wow! The gorgeous doll's impressed!

Tired now but laughing still
we tumble over to Skye
I fall asleep and talk
all night she listens
and cackles evilly into
her cornflakes tantalising
me with what I might
or might not have said.

Then out on the road to laugh
uproariously round the island
the car barking and yelping
with glee cocking its leg
at passing places nipping the
heels of lumbering buses. Screech
of brakes and out she leaps
sprinting up the drunken
road sandals flapping bangles
clinking mad hoops flying
round her pants. 'You crazy
kite you can't catch sheep!
It's not allowed!' Chokes back
into the driving seat 'I only
wanted to FEEL him!'

Zoom back to the caravan
fling her psychedelic suitcase
into the panting car. Swop
'phone numbers - world apart
yet nearer than that. A last
whoop of laughter as she unleashes
the mini and they chase bumble
bees to the ferry together. Some
times I wish I'd kissed her.

Stewart McIntosh, from Scottish Love Poems A Personal Anthology  (ed by Antonia Fraser)