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My Great-grandfather Goes To Work
|Days when the cold stopped
short of binding the river in an ice-shroud
it was a long walk: twelve miles into Thurso to start the working week.
Days when the wind shoved in from the Arctic
When the path gave out, soaked peat sucked at his feet.
Today there are the scant trees like question marks,
A hundred years is nothing.
I can see my great-grandfather, in his dark suit and
His skates kiss the pale, hard surface.
His arms criss-cross his flapping jacket:
He skates past Halkirk, past Skinnet: here Vikings
named the river's gleam:
In front of him, a week of credits and debits, his
pen dipped in ink
I can see him, a black shape on silver, pushing out
limbs like a water-boatman
A flock of geese flies over the island I stand on
sent us her poem on 4 January 2002
"The bit of Caithness blood that still lingers in my veins from the great-grandfather (and mother) in the poem! I live horribly far south, in Bristol, and haven't been to your neck of the woods for a good fourteen months (much though I long to)."
Info about Fiona Hamilton
This poem is published in NorthWords, Issue 26, PO Box 5725, Dingwall, Ross-Shire and Generations anthology, published by Poetry Can, 20-22 Hepburn Road, St Pauls, Bristol BS2 8UD