Two poems by Gerry Stewart

Today I’m pleased to be able to bring you two very evocative and atmospheric poems by Gerry Stewart, both drawing their power from Scottish landscapes and lore. In Gerry’s own words she ‘is a poet, creative writing tutor and editor based in Finland. Her poetry collection Post-Holiday Blues was published by Flambard Press, UK. In 2019 she won the ‘Selected or Neglected Collection Competition’ with Hedgehog Poetry Press for her collection Totems, to be published in 2020. Her writing blog can be found at http://thistlewren.blogspot.fi/ and @grimalkingerry on Twitter.

 

Islay

The High Road sings beneath my tyres
over the moor, empty and alive,
black veins of peat opened,
bricks stacked high.

I do not remember this place,
if I ever made it so far
when I dabbled my toes before,
but driving its spine
brings a sense of returning.

The telephone lines shadow-loop
stitches onto the single track
to keep me from soaring off
into the wide streak of sky.

Firmly held in the island’s hand,
cupped close to hear its whispers,
I don’t need to walk the machair
to know it’s settling in my bones.

 

The Bicycle Tree

The day the boy left for the Great War
he said his goodbyes
and cycled towards the village,
but stopped at the smiddy’s tree
at the Brig o’ Turk.

Maybe the light called him
as it fell sharp
through the sycamore leaves
or he felt the need to breathe in
the fresh air and grass
overflowing Glen Finglas’ cup
one last time,
but he leaned his bike
against the tree’s scarred trunk
and never returned
to fetch it.

Maybe it was an offering
to the old gods,
ironivorous and dark,
fed a chain here
for a good harvest in fishing,
an anchor there
to lash a boat in a storm
or a bike
for the safe homecoming
of a young soldier.

The bark closed over,
sheltering the metal to its heart
just as hungry war
swallows men whole.

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