Alastair Mackie has been called the most underrated poet of his generation writing in Scots. A modest man, he felt he hadn’t received the recognition he deserved, despite a rich body of work written in Scots and English, which can be enjoyed in the recently published Collected Poems
1954-1994 (Two Ravens, £22). ‘For Bet Gaitherin Strawberries’ is a love poem dedicated to his wife.
The rain was sliverin on the windae pane when you gaed oot tae pick strawberries, reid pockit moons, for the denner table.
There ye were, on your hunkers in the weet, fingers ficherin amon the dried bleed and green o the leaves. The net’s tent flap twisted
in a fankle. Your airm was a swan’s neck, raxin oot and pykin amon the berries wi strae pendants plattit roond their reets.
Your face was set, sun-birstled, douce-lookin my dear. Ye michta been a peasant quine in some Russian laird’s kitchen gairden,
i the time o the Tsars. Or the goddess
o earth, close to the grun as your fit-soles.
The Italianate helmet o your heid
(wi the weive o siller thro the slae-black) hings like a black sun abeen your wark.
I staund and watch ye thro the smirry gless eident and bou-backit and still bonny, and the haill poem says like some hubberer
‘I love ye’. Ye cam back ower the chuckies and only when your een meet mine, ye smile, haudin the bouwl’s brazier o strawberries.
You can borrow Collected Poems 1954-1994 from the Scottish Poetry Library, 5 Crichton’s Close, Edinburgh EH8 8DT. Tel: 0131-557 2876, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.spl.org.uk
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