..and to draw an appropriate line under the story.
Should anyone ever set foot in Rose Street Edinburgh, the poem is in the windows for anyone who cares to stop a while and notice it.
This is It
Monday I found a boot –
Rust and salt leather.
I gave it back to the sea, to dance in.
Tuesday a spar of timber worth thirty bob.
It will be a chair, a coffin, a bed.
Wednesday a half can of Swedish spirits.
I tilted my head.
The shore was cold with mermaids and angels.
Thursday I got nothing, seaweed,
A whale bone,
Wet feet and a loud cough.
Friday I held a seaman’s skull,
Sand spilling from it
The way time is told on kirkyard stones.
Saturday a barrel of sodden oranges.
A Spanish ship
Was wrecked last month at The Kame.
Sunday, for fear of the elders,
I sit on my bum.
What’s heaven? A sea chest with a thousand gold coins.
George Mackay Brown
from Fishermen with Ploughs (Hogarth Press, 1971), and included in The Collected Poems of George Mackay Brown (John Murray, 2005)