Two nations … even then

The tree,
                        distressful in the wind, bending stays upright,
but too easy (and asymmetric) to stimulate my tears;
the whipping branches superimpose weals on the cows' hide,
ruminating in the steel-gray rain that slashes my window. 

Steep Hill
                        reads the old-fashioned road sign,
its red triangle uncertainly atop the stained rectangle,
but noone descends the waterspread road past the fallen gates
defending the flaking lodge wherein I sit and write. 

                        Which Element chose the part it now plays out,
hunched shoulders battling against the resistless force?
Once, up this drive The Big House sheltered behind its shrubs,
magnificent - but powerless to endure beyond its owner. 

The new road leaping the Gorge higher up severs C’trine
from House, neatly stanching the wound with a layby: both suffer.
In the weatherswept town Poverty's a style of architecture,
a tradition old as faces, where only the clothes change. 

What price then my comfortable luxury of doubt
amid the barbaric grandeur of those who work this land,
whose very existence is wrested thanklessly (as it seems)
from a slow and inhospitable kind of terrain?

 Here the Burn gathers itself to swirl the stones
over the sliced rocks towards the Brig o' Doon,
and in its flood-culvert the boys take corrugated
aim at the damp hearts of their wall-scoring sweethearts.

The idle mill-pond softly chokes with simpering water
while empty chimneys, sunk from view behind the rushes,
have the air of a terminal illness bravely born,
where in this lateral rain I have no right to intrude. 

Yet, bent and beaten as they are by savage trade-winds,
the young ones force their buds in despite of a cosmic cloudburst
and in their misplaced Hopes are king and queen of their minutes,
tho thru the pane my cry of Brother goes unheard.


In Burns Country, under the oppressive weight of Thascism. viii 79
Leatherhead v 80. ® x 87

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