Mountains and molehills
Your mother wants a garden full of grass and flowers
but she hates molehills, wants their makers all dead
and can’t see the contradiction at the heart of that.
They aerate the soil by accident, chasing worms
they can hear singing or screaming. They surface
gingerly in our world like velvety submarines.
I’m the son-in-law she never wanted, who, through
sheer blindness found her oldest daughter.
I know she is attached to the loam of her birth-land
but I also know that wherever I go here I turn up
that soil not even meaning to do so,
just by following my calling.
The war memorial by St. Lawrence’s
has a big bronze plaque
with room for more names.
The metal thieves have not yet had it away.
The trophy cabinet at the cricket-club
is so comically small you wonder why
someone would make it that way.
Some of the old silverware’s been scrapped.
In my parents’ house there’s a stray seed
fallen from a long eaten loaf, lodged
in a crack in the floorboards.
Ten years it’s waited for sun and rain.
The old cinder path where people threw
their ashes still keeps a hold on its name
though it’s lost its original purpose.
No-one has hearths in their home anymore.
You launched Tardigrade
with an open-air reading
by David Hume’s mausoleum.
You asked me to record it.
The wind kept trying to snatch
your lines but I kept my arm up.
It was such a good day –
I don’t recall any corbies
in the Old Carlton graveyard
but they must have been there,
gathering on the horizon
like specks on your CT-scan.
In a Georgian Edinburgh mood
you gave me a copy of Cockburn’s
Memorials of his Time.
I keep putting off reading it
so that I have one small thing
of you left in reserve.
Richie McCaffery lives in Ghent, Belgium but grew up in Northumberland. He has a PhD in Scottish literature (with a focus on 20th Century poetry) from the University of Glasgow. He is the author of Spinning Plates (HappenStance Press, 2012) as well as Cairn (Nine Arches Press, 2014). His third pamphlet collection is forthcoming from Red Squirrel Press in 2017.