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Poetry

scotland

By Janet Paisley
Translated from Scots

she is a harsh mother,
arthritic with hills and crags
cut deeper than crow’s feet.

her face is lined with ravines
her voice the roar of spume
on broken brown-toothed rock.

she passes boulders off as breasts,
belts her waist with an industrious past,
in her arms, she gathers firs

a grey and grizzled warrior, she is
bordered by ample hips, her tongue
a lash of thunderous voltage.

no season softens her, she drags
her children up on gorse and whin,
winters them without kindness.

she fires the hearth with ice or hail,
expects snow to pass for gentleness.
spring girdles her old in green.

if she holds you to her rugged breast
it is to pour the white-water scorn
of mountains on your head.

when she croons, she throws up seagulls.
sleeping, she drags a lumpen pillow
over the moon, punches out a few stars.

she’ll turn your dreams to Scotch mist,
bone comb your hair with tugging wind
scrub your faces with rain.

in your mouth she lodges a language
no one speaks, in your heart a stone.
but if you go from her

a wild song and dance will follow
to bind you forever son or daughter,
make you sick for home.

English Scots (Original)

she is a harsh mother,
arthritic with hills and crags
cut deeper than crow’s feet.

her face is lined with ravines
her voice the roar of spume
on broken brown-toothed rock.

she passes boulders off as breasts,
belts her waist with an industrious past,
in her arms, she gathers firs

a grey and grizzled warrior, she is
bordered by ample hips, her tongue
a lash of thunderous voltage.

no season softens her, she drags
her children up on gorse and whin,
winters them without kindness.

she fires the hearth with ice or hail,
expects snow to pass for gentleness.
spring girdles her old in green.

if she holds you to her rugged breast
it is to pour the white-water scorn
of mountains on your head.

when she croons, she throws up seagulls.
sleeping, she drags a lumpen pillow
over the moon, punches out a few stars.

she’ll turn your dreams to Scotch mist,
bone comb your hair with tugging wind
scrub your faces with rain.

in your mouth she lodges a language
no one speaks, in your heart a stone.
but if you go from her

a wild song and dance will follow
to bind you forever son or daughter,
make you sick for home.

scotland

she’s a haurd mither, sair
scartit wi braes an glens
oot-stravaigin ony craw’s feet.

hur face glowers wi heuchs
hur vyce teems a burn in spate
ower broon-teeth jaggit scaurs.

she pits oan clinty craigs are briests,
belts hur waist wi forfochen industry,
in hur airms, she gethers firs.

aywis a thrawn, crabbit fechter, she’s
boardered by fuller hips, flytin
fire-dairts wi thunnered micht.

nae season lichtens hur, she drags
hur bairns up oan kail an whin,
winters thaim athoot guidness.

she kennles the grate wi chitterin hail,
coups snaw tae shaw hoo saft she is.
spring claeths hur aulder in green.

if she coories ye in tae hur breist
it is tae skail a linn’s white-watter
torrent o snash oantae yer heid.

liltin, she bokes up craikin maws.
sleepin, she bumphles a runkled pilla
ower the mune, batters oot twa three staurs.

she’ll smoor yer dreams wi Scotch mist,
nit kaim yer hair wi chuggin wind,
slounge yer faces wi rain.

in yer mooth she staps a leid
naebody kens, in yer hert a stane.
but gang awa fae hur

a rantin sang and dance’ll folley
tae reel ye in as son or dochter,
mak ye seik fur hame.

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